Two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm has warned against rising expectations of his son Niclas’ own World Rally Championship debut on Monza Rally next week.
Grönholm Jr drives a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo in Italy, but his father says he expects him to be slow on his first ever asphalt stage rally.
“It’s not nice sometimes for Niclas to have the name Grönholm,” Marcus told DirtFish. “Already in Finland people are saying: ‘Ahhh, so now it starts. He is going to Italy, he is leaving rallycross and he is going to the rally finally.’
“This is not what’s happening. When the last [World Rallycross] round was canceled, Niclas had no more driving this year. An Italian team came to him and made an offer, so we said why not? But it is just for driver training. Really, I don’t just say this, I expect him to be slow.”
The 24-year-old finished 17th at last year’s Monza Rally Show, but his only experience behind the wheel of a rally car – and outside the confines of a circuit – is a pair of Arctic Rally outings.
“Driving a Tarmac stage is not so much like Arctic Rally, it’s so difficult story,” said his father.
“It’s for the middle day next week, on the Saturday when the rally goes out to the big roads – that’s what I’m more worried about.
“Have you seen his notes? Ooo la laaa… They are not so good! He and Antti [Linnaketo, co-driver] will make some practice to make some notes, but Niclas is not used to this. He is used to understanding the track and knowing all of the corners.
“Niclas likes to do the odd rally, but really, he wants to stay with rallycross – that’s where his future is.”
Grönholm Sr will accompany his son to Italy next week and has knowledge of world championship competition in Italy.
‘Bosse’ tackled Sanremo five times and Sardinia four, winning the island event in 2007 in his final full season with Ford.