Marcus Grönholm smiles at the memory. Too many memories. And now he’s about to make some more. This year, one of Finland’s most famous names returns to a series that helped create the legend back in the 1990s.
Niclas Grönholm, the 26-year-old son of the two-time world title winner, is competing in the Finnish Rally Championship.
“It’s a good place to learn,” Marcus, who won two Finnish titles, told DirtFish. “I know, I was there for a long time, learning. I think too long…”
Given that Grönholm Jr is a race winner at the highest level of world championship rallycross for the last four years – and finished third in the standings across the last two seasons – you could be forgiven for thinking he’s pretty smart anyway.
And he is.
But now it’s time to be rally smart.
Niclas said: “Rallying is really something so different from rallycross. My main focus is rallycross and it always has been, but I know some of the techniques I can learn from rallying will help me develop even more a rallycross driver.”
Marcus has, so far, resisted stepping aboard the Citroën C3 Rally2 his son is using in this year’s Finnish series. Next week, all of that changes.
“I will go to a test with him,” said Grönholm Sr. “One thing, I think the only thing I can help with, is to have him driving the car a little bit more sideways.
“For rallycross, most of the time he is driving the car straight because this is the fastest way for the Tarmac – when you are rallying, you are moving the car around and using the throttle more to set the car for the corners. He is doing this, but maybe we can do it some more. Maybe I can help a little bit.”
A pair of top-10 finishes from the first two rounds of the series is a good start, even if suspension issues slowed the C3 last time out in Kuopio.
“It’s going to be really useful for Niclas to be doing the rallies in Finland,” added Marcus. “Like I said, he will learn a lot. When I was younger, I was fighting all the time with my cousin Sebastian [Lindholm] and the pace in the Finnish Championship is still high.
“This is definitely not a kind of crossover into rallying, Niclas is a rallycross driver who is chasing his own world championships – but driving this side of the sport can help.”
As for Grönholm Sr, he’s considering the odd offer of a drive.
“I was telling everybody: ‘No. I stop now’. And then the telephone stopped ringing. Maybe it would be nice to take the odd call now and then and it could be nice to do some driving.”