Multiple WRC champion Gronholm "tempted" by rallycross return

Double World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm admits he is "tempted" to make a return to competitive driving in rallycross this season.

Gronholm’s son Niclas will race alongside Swede Kevin Eriksson in the Olsbergs MSE team in the World Rallycross Championship this season, with Gronholm Sr. acting as general manager of the team.

Niclas will take part in compulsory national service duties later this year in Finland, meaning he could potentially be forced to miss some World RX events.

Marcus has previous experience with the OMSE team as a driver; he made his European Rallycross debut in 2008 and won.

“Back in 2008 I did my first rallycross race in Sweden with Andreas Eriksson [OMSE team principal] and I still remember it like yesterday,” said the Finn in a team release. “It was a great feeling with that incredible power and the great show for the audience.

"When I look at the sport of today it’s interesting to see what progress has been made since and with my old rivals from the WRC, Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg still fighting for titles.

"I must admit that there are days when I’m tempted to get back behind the wheel! We are actually still waiting for confirmation of Niclas’ military service required in Finland.

"So who knows I even might stand in for a few races to show the youngsters in real life how it should be done on the track,” he added.

Speaking to Motorsport.com at a test in Hockenheim, Gronholm Sr. said that although he won’t compete in any further rallies, the temptation to return to rallycross remains.

“There is a little bit of ‘yeah why not, I could drive.’ I have said that there is no competing any more. But, you never know. We will see,” said the Finn.

“The temptation is still there, ok not for rallies any more. I do testing for Volkswagen still for the new car for next year, but no rallies anymore.

"I know that I will not be there in the top and that’s not easy to accept, but in rallycross, there is still a chance. If you make a good start you can still be quick,” he added.

Gronholm won on his maiden rallycross appearance at Holjes, Sweden in 2008. He completed further events in the same season, in Holland, and in Poland where he sensationally finished a heat race despite rolling the car in the joker lap section of the Slomczyn circuit, losing minimal time.

The Finn finished second in the Unlimited class of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb in 2009, driving an OMSE Fiesta Mk7.

He continued with the team in 2011, and won a round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill, while also competing in the American-based Global Rallycross Championship where he achieved success in both 2011 and 2012, before the crash at X Games LA in 2012 brought his career to an end.

“I just had a ‘small’ accident in the US, and then I said ‘ok I’m not driving any more, it’s enough now’.  It was a little bit strange; still I don’t know exactly what happened there. But I am fine, no problem.”

Marcus expects Niclas to face an uphill challenge this season in his first World RX campaign. “Maybe it’s too early [for him], but ok it’s a learning year, so we will see,” he said.

“He has been competing only in the Finnish championship, it’s a big step to come up here. Everything is new, all of the tracks and everything.”

Speaking of the rivalry between his former WRC rivals Solberg and Loeb in World RX this year, Gronholm Sr. continued: “For sure they want to beat each other when they are on the starting grid. It’s not so easy, there are so many good drivers.

"And in rallycross one mistake in one corner and you are out. A bad start you are out. It’s not like rally where you can still fix it if you make a mistake. It’s so quick and you have to be just there.

"So, for Loeb it can also be difficult because there are other quick drivers and there is fighting, you never know [what can happen].”

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About this article
Series World Rallycross
Drivers Marcus Gronholm
Teams Olsbergs MSE
Article type Interview