GRX driver Niclas Grönholm believes that the team’s updated Hyundai i20 is optimized for just “50%” of the World Rallycross tracks but he can feel that the car is already better than last year’s.
Grönholm contested the RallyX Nordic Magic Weekend event at Höljes last week and topped qualifying on both days – taking a clean sweep of sessions on round one – but was ultimately beaten in a straight fight with Robin Larsson and Johan Kristoffersson in the final.
He then struggled in the wet on Sunday with a start-line stall adding to his woes, taking him out of contention in the semifinal.
Grönholm said that the weekend did serve to validate the work that the GRX Hyundai team has done over the winter to improve its already solid i20 platform, and highlight where the team still needs to work – namely in the wet.
“With the new evolution of the car we’ve been mainly testing all weekend and for the dry we found, especially this morning, I felt it was almost where it should be,” Grönholm told DirtFish. “It’s been a bigger job than we expected with working with the suspension and all the other parts we have upgraded and so on. But today was really disappointing.
“I think on dry we are soon where we want to be, I felt comfortable in the car in the last run yesterday and in the morning today [Sunday] so I feel that’s OK, maybe [there is] some small things we could try there also but in the wet, on a track like this especially, we are a bit behind.”
Grönholm was the only driver to win multiple events besides World Rallycross Champion Timmy Hansen in 2019, and the World Rally Car-based i20 also topped qualifying three times, though a two-round absence for medical reasons ultimately cost Grönholm in the title race.
Going into the delayed 2020 World RX season, Grönholm thinks that the team is in an even stronger position to a year ago, even if there is yet more performance to unlock.
“I feel that the car is better. There’s more potential in the car now, but we haven’t reached it yet,” he said.
“It’s definitely capable of doing better than last year. But we were here to test and we were trying different stuff, that’s honestly what we’ve been doing and we still need it to be 100% sure that we are competitive on every track and in every condition.
“Of course Höljes and Kouvala, which is now joining the calendar, are very different tracks to many others – you have more bumps and stuff like this and the same settings, you can’t apply them on every track, so I feel like we have 50% covered and we need to work on the other 50% to have a good car for all the races.”