World Rally Championship-2 driver Nikolay Gryazin says his future prospects in the top class of rallying will be hindered by not having a “special surname”.
The Russian is currently sixth in the WRC2 points, with one podium from the three rallies he’s contested in his Movisport-run Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Last year he came fifth in the championship as a Hyundai junior, with a best result of second place.
Before that he was an event-winner in WRC3, and won three European Rally Championship rounds as a Sports Racing Technologies driver. Recently he tested a Ford Fiesta WRC, but he’s not looking at the WRC yet.
“It’s quite a big step to drive a WRC car, and if I would do it with my own budget it’s quite difficult,” Gryazin told DirtFish.
“Normally I would like to do it [get back in a World Rally Car] not on a WRC race, because I still don’t have enough experience on each stages of each round. For example if I go into some rounds which for everybody will be like a new one, maybe it has sense. But you need to practice.
“Because if you only make one-day test and go in the race, it will not be easy to show the good pace. Or I will go slowly. And after that, you will not have a good reputation. Normally you need to prepare with like the small races, or make big test program, because you need to understand how to push with this car.
“Otherwise to drive slowly, it’s no sense sometimes.
“For me, because I don’t have some [test programme], if I start to push and make more and more mistakes for example, without a testing programme, for me it will be quite difficult because for the Russians here it is quite difficult to prove.”
His countryman Evgeny Novikov was rushed into the WRC aged 18 with the Citroën Junior Team in 2009, and while a move to M-Sport resulted in two podiums in his first full season in 2012, he only had one more year before he was dropped and left rallying altogether.
“If I have some special surname or something else, maybe I will have a second chance,” added Gryazin. “But for me, I need to not lose the first chance. That’s why we are not high up. I want to be sure that we have proper skills to be able to fight.”
Gryazin’s father Stanislav was actually a winner in the ERC, made the podium in the Production WRC and was the 2001 Russian Rally Champion, while older brother Vasiliy was ninth in the 2014 ERC and finished atop the Russian Rally Championship points last year, and sister-in-law Anna is a co-driver in Russia too. So while Gryazin’s not a surname famous internationally, it’s certainly known in Russia.
“But to jump in the car because I was good on the Croatia Rally, it’s not the result, it’s just one race,” he said, referring to a rally where he had been set for a WRC2 podium before rolling on the penultimate stage.
“Let’s see how it goes all season, and if we are improving, let’s think about it. But still, need to work, we need to work and if against my new team-mate [Esapekka] Lappi I can see that for sure I still have work for me [to do], we will not hurry it up.”