Niclas Grönholm will make his Nitro Rallycross debut at Lydden Hill this weekend after receiving a last-minute call-up to replace Kevin Eriksson at Olsbergs MSE.
Eriksson has been forced to miss the opening round of the season after being injured in the build-up to the event.
“It was Thursday evening, I think half past 10 Finnish time. My dad called actually and said you might have to go to Lydden,” Grönholm told DirtFish of his late call-up. “Maybe half an hour later I called Andreas [Eriksson, OMSE team boss] and he told me that I need to be here and I started to arrange stuff late in the night and we arrived yesterday [Friday] and we went to sleep a bit before 2am.”
After arriving at the circuit on Saturday morning, Grönholm was allowed a short run on track to familiarize himself with the FC1-X, after OMSE team-mate Oliver Eriksson completed an initial systems check and shakedown in the car.
“I sat in [it] when the car was launched, but no I was meant to drive the car a few times but I always had some other commitments with the World RX program, they always seem to collide on the same days,” Grönholm said. “It was the first time [driving] this morning.
“I got a run in the car and [it was], let’s say, quite easy to get into the car but there obviously still is a lot to learn, a lot of buttons which I forget to use and so on.
“I’m learning all the time each time I go out, I’m trying some new stuff to maybe help me a bit and I just need to get some clean runs. In free practice 1 I made some mistakes. You have to concentrate so much with the new stuff, it’s not easy.”
Speaking of his expectations for the weekend, Grönholm added: “Talking about a win is a bit too optimistic. The other guys have tested at least a few days so it’s not easy to get to their pace but I’m not that far off when I get a clean run and kind of remember to do all of the stuff, but it’s fun anyway.”
The deal is only expected to last for this weekend with the elder Eriksson brother, at this point, expected to return for next month’s trip to Sweden. Grönholm’s family team, Grönholm RX, has its own FC1-X on order and is expected to join the field later on in the season.
“Good question. Everything is hanging in the air,” Grönholm said of his own family’s plans to race in Nitro RX. “I don’t know really what the exact plan with the car is. Obviously there’s a round in Finland so I might do that one with the car, but let’s see.”
Prior to the racing campaign kicking off, Kevin Eriksson completed much of the all-electric car’s development work, running countless testing laps, primarily in Spain, before teams received their cars.