CO-DRIVER: Timo Rautiainen
WRC STATS (to end of 2006)
TITLES: 2000, 2002
DEBUT: Finland 1989
FIRST WRC WIN: Sweden 2000
2006: Second place in the drivers’ points with Ford. Seven victories.
2005: A solid final year with Peugeot, with two wins and third place in the drivers’ standings
2004: Trouble debut for the Peugeot 307 WRC results in just one win in Finland
2003: Three wins in Sweden, New Zealand and Argentina, but only sixth in the drivers’ standings with Peugeot
2002: Victories in Sweden, Cyprus, Finland, New Zealand and Australia with Peugeot help Marcus Gronholm to a second drivers’ title
2001: Fourth in drivers’ standings after wins in Finland, Australia and Great Britain for Peugeot
2000: Marcus Gronholm takes his first drivers’ title with Peugeot in his first full season, thanks to first WRC win in Sweden and victories in Finland, New Zealand and Australia
1999: Limited WRC programme with Peugeot and one-off drives with SEAT and Mitsubishi
1998: Finnish champion in Toyota Corolla WRC
1997: Finnish champion in Toyota Celica GT-Four
1996: Finnish champion in Toyota Celica GT-Four
1994: Finnish champion in Toyota Celica Turbo
1991: Finnish champion in Toyota Celica GT-Four
The double champion is a mass of contradictions - icy cool at one moment, passionate, excited or furious the next. He’s hard to read and probably even harder to beat, as his team-mates have discovered.
Gronholm started rallying in 1987 and lifted the Finnish junior title in 1988 before taking a string of Finnish national titles between 1991 and 1998, while somehow managing to totally avoid recognition at the international scene. Given his most realistic shot at the sport’s top level in 2000, with what was meant to be a limited programme for relative newcomer Peugeot, Gronholm seized it with both hands. Victory in Sweden showed the potential of years gone by, and how he had matured, while wins in Finland, New Zealand and Australia proved his versatility over a variety of events and surfaces.
A nail-biting championship show-down in the forests of Wales on Rally GB demonstrated he could hold his nerve when it mattered, and Gronholm has continued to show these qualities in subsequent years. A second title followed in 2002, but Gronholm has often been forced to fight against his machinery as difficult seasons in 2001, 2003 and 2004 have shown. On these occasions he’s shown frustration, loyalty and determination in equal measure, but has rarely backed off. He really is one of the WRC’s great all-rounders.
After six years with Peugeot, the Flying Finn moved home to Ford for 2006 and made his first realistic shot at the title since his last championship success in 2002. Gronholm finished second in the drivers’ title and helped give Ford the manufacturers’ crown.
Gronholm’s 2006 season with Ford was remarkable, winning seven of the season’s sixteen events. Though he failed to capture the drivers’ championship in his debut season with Ford, his season cannot be considered a wash. Learning the intricacies of the Focus was the team’s goal last season and the manufacturer’s title was only the icing on an unexpected cake.
2006 also saw Gronholm become the most successful Finnish driver in the history of the WRC and with his victory in the season’s final round, Wales Rally GB, he also became the sport’s third most successful driver in history after claiming his 25th WRC victory.
For 2007, he will be back with Ford and will be determined to win both titles in his second season with the team. Malcolm Wilson, Ford’s team boss, stated in late 2005 that 2007 would be the season where the Focus would truly shine, but we’ll have to wait and see if Wilson’s prediction will come true.
Related news & articles
Monday March 9
Marcus Gronholm, double World Rally Champion, announced his decision to come out of retirement to participate in Rally Portugal, to be held in April. More
Monday January 12
Kimi Raikkonen and Mika Hakkinen are two former world champions of Formula One who are accustomed to the pressure that the sport carries with it. More
Friday December 19
Matthias Boon, Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy driver is the 2008 FST International Shootout Champion after the 19-year old from Belgium beat 17 other finalists at the selection event in UK. More
Wednesday July 23
Mikko Hirvonen may be leading the World Rally Championship standings at the midway point of the season, but along with team mate Jari-Matti Latvala, he will be receiving special classes from an asphalt driving coach to master the smooth surface rallies that are lined up in the second half of the season. More