- May 23, 2007
- Reaction score
- Avondale, AZ
Now THIS is news.
http://www.wrc.com/jsp/index.jsp?lnk=101&id=4062Double World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm has decided to come out of retirement to contest April’s Rally Portugal in a Subaru Impreza WRC.
The Finn, 41, will drive a latest specification Impreza run by Prodrive, with backing from Rally Portugal and its sponsor Vodafone. He will be co-driven by his navigator since 1995, Timo Rautiainen.
The appearance - which for now is being billed as a one-off - will be Gronholm’s first entry in a WRC rally since his retirement after Wales Rally GB in 2007.
“I made the decision a few days ago,” Gronholm told wrc.com. “It’s okay to come back again. Everybody is looking at me, and maybe I’m stupid, but to have fun and drive again, why not?”
Gronholm, who has won 30 WRC rallies, has taken part in the last two editions of Rally Portugal, driving a Ford Focus WRC on both occasions: in 2007 as a Ford factory team driver - when he finished fourth - and in 2008 driving the event safety car.
The Finn is quite clear about his expectations: “I will not start aiming for the win, as I want to compare my speed with the regular WRC boys over the first few stages. The important thing is to feel confidence and pleasure, coming back to an event that I enjoy very much and know the stages quite well.”
Gronholm wanted to spend more time in the car before making any results predictions. “We have to test the car first, we have to do changes, and find the right feeling and then I can say more,” he said. “I drove the car a little bit last weekend in Norway and we have another test planned in March, but for the moment I don’t really know where we are. But I hope we can do some little bit good times - that’s the aim.”
Prodrive director Richard Taylor revealed that discussion with Gronholm had been going on for many months. “It’s no secret that we were talking with Marcus at the end of last year,” said Taylor. “He had some interest in coming back so we kept the discussions going and we’ve reached an agreement to go to Portugal. It’s a one-off at this time but we’ll see if he likes it.”
Gronholm’s car will be an evolution of the 2008 model used by Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson on Wales Rally GB and will be fitted with Ohlins dampers. “We have to allow for the fact that we’re not able to homologate the 2009 car fully, but we’ll put together the best spec of car that we possibly can,” added Taylor.