MARCUS Gronholm PILOTS FORD FIESTA TO SECOND IN UNLIMITED CLASS AT PIKES PEAK

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., July 19, 2009 -- As a two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm seen just about everything in a rally course ... until he came to Pikes Peak.

Gronholm drove his production based Ford Fiesta prepared by Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution to second in the 'Unlimited Class' and fifth fastest time overall in the 87th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb here Sunday. Gronholm captured Pikes Peak Rookie of the Year honors as he posted a run of 11:28.963 up the 12.4-mile, 156-turn course which runs up the famed Pikes Peak Highway.

Gronholm fought not only the high altitude and diverse road and weather conditions of the famed course's 14,000 feet of elevation, but he battled a mechanical issue with the turbo charger on his 800-horsepower Fiesta rallycross car that resulted in a power reduction during the crucial final climb to the top.

"I always wanted to compete at Pikes Peak," said Gronholm. "Having been here the last week I have to admit that it is one of the most challenging events I have ever done in my career. The handling of the Fiesta is absolutely fantastic, and the BFGoodrich tires were great. Unfortunately we had a few small problems today. I lost some power during the last few kilometers, but I was determined to finish. The Fiesta has the potential to beat the 10-minute record. If I come back I know what we need to do to be fastest."

Andreas Eriksson's first trip to Pikes Peak was cut short when in Engineer's Corner (2 mile mark) when two tires slipped off their rim and sent the Olsbergs MSE Fiesta off course where it clipped a tree and sustained damage to the rear wing. The DNF brought an end to a frustrating introduction for Eriksson to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

"I am disappointed because the car was handling fantastic through the early portion of the course," said Eriksson. "Overall it has been a tough week. We had a lot of challenges, but we learned a lot and I know what I need to do now to come back and be fastest. Now we turn our attention to the X Games and getting the Fiestas ready for Tanner [Foust], Brian [Deegan] and Kenny [Brack} so that we can go to LA and bring home a win."

"While it is still a year until the Ford Fiesta comes to America it was a great opportunity to showcase the versatility and performance capabilities of the Fiesta at one of the most challenging motorsports events in the world," said Jost Capito, Ford Motor Company Director of Global Motorsports Business Development. "The Olsbergs MSE team did an outstanding job competing at Pikes Peak for the first time and now they have an opportunity to campaign their Fiestas at the X Games."

In Europe, the Fiesta name has long been synonymous with outstanding driving quality, design and value. The all-new Ford Fiesta is bringing that three-decade heritage to U.S. consumers when the car goes on sale next year.

-credit: ford racing