The Grönholm name is known and loved in the FIA World Rally Championship, which is why the Finnish moniker is a popular addition to the entry for this week’s ACI Rally Monza (3 – 6 December).
But this story’s not about 30-time world rally winner and two-time world champion Marcus. It’s about his 24-year-old son Niclas, making his WRC debut at the Milan-based event.
Grönholm Jr will drive a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo while his father will keep a close eye on his progress from the Monza service park.
A world rallycross regular, Niclas is no stranger to rallying – how could he be with such a famous father? But he is a stranger to driving on pure asphalt stages.
“Niclas has done the Arctic Rally twice,” said Grönholm Sr, “but that rally’s not really the same as this one! This will be Niclas’ first time on Tarmac stages.”
He has tackled the last two Monza Rally Shows, but the big difference this time is Saturday. The second leg takes the crews out of the circuit and into traditional mountain stages around Bergamo, to the north.
“Those stages could be difficult for Niclas,” said Marcus. “He doesn’t have the experience for making the pace notes and that’s something which is really important for this side of the sport.
“I think people need to remember that he is doing Monza for some driving training and to enjoy himself after the last round of the [WRX] was cancelled.
“OK, he has some good idea for the car control, but I think he can be quite slow for these Saturday stages. Already some people are saying this is the start of Niclas switching over to start rallying and not rallycross. This isn’t happening, it’s just for some fun.”
Full coverage from ACI Rally Monza will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.