Interview Marcus Gronholm: "I don't like coming second" As competitive as ever however strong the opposition, Marcus Gronholm continues to throw everything into the fight in his bid to get return to his winning ways with the 307 WRC. And success...
Interview Marcus Gronholm: "I don't like coming second"
As competitive as ever however strong the opposition, Marcus Gronholm continues to throw everything into the fight in his bid to get return to his winning ways with the 307 WRC. And success could well come his way on home ground in Finland?
Do you believe you could have won in Argentina with a little luck?
"While dry conditions would have been unfavourable to him, Sebastien Loeb had the advantage of being first on the road in the wet and I wasn't able to match his pace on the Friday. That's rallying. Sometimes, success breeds success and a driver who is in dominating form finds himself benefiting from favourable circumstances. It's happened to me in the past, so I can't complain about it now. Also, in my opinion, the thirty seconds I dropped on Day 1 weren't all down to our respective road positions. The 307 WRC was closer to our rivals than it is has been in recent rallies but it still isn't in a position yet where it can dominate. I think it would have been difficult to win even without those thirty seconds."
You were particularly quick on the Saturday morning when the terrain was more like Finland--
"The 307 WRC is effectively very competitive on wide, fast, smooth stages which notably call for very good traction, and that's an encouraging sign Finland of course. With the exception of the shock absorbers, which will be adapted to meet the demands of my home event's unique jumps, the car's specification will be very similar to the one we used in Argentina, so it is reasonable to believe we can be competitive in Finland."
Does the fact that your tyres seemed to work well in Argentina make you optimistic for Finland?
"In the damp and sometimes wet conditions we had in Argentina where the temperature was also cooler than during the recent run of Mediterranean-based rallies, our Pirelli tyres effectively worked well. So there is every reason to believe they will work at least as well in Finland. That said, the summer can be very fickle in my country. It is difficult predict what the weather will be like, whether it will be hot or not. I wouldn't want to be overly optimistic until we see what it's like on the day."
You won in Finland last year, so you will be back on your favourite hunting ground--
"That's true, but our main rival has been so strong this season so far that he even seems capable of beating us on our home event. Even so, it won't be easy for him and it will be up to us to make the most of that. Every year, I feel unbeatable going into 'my' rally, but this time I get the feeling we will need to be particularly strong and focused if we want to win."
Your declarations have seemed a little disenchanted recently, but your motivation clearly has suffered in the slightest--
"That's right! The instant my helmet goes on, I always give my absolute best and I never admit to being beaten before the start. Even so, you've still got to be lucid. There's no point in overdoing it if it's unrealistic to hope for better and if the situation dictates that you make sure you finish in the points. I admit it's not a situation I find it easy to live with! I may have lacked lucidity on occasions in the past, but Peugeot's current position in the championship proves that I'm getting reasonable with age. That said, I still don't like coming second!"
Your cousin Sebastian Lindholm will also participate in Rally Finland--
"He could well be one of my biggest threats! Sebastian knows the stages very well and he proved that when he was very quick and very fired up last year. His enthusiasm even got the better of him. But driving quickly over our stages is so exhilarating and all Finns are so keen to do well on their home event, that this type of error is always possible. This year it will be more important than ever for us all to stay on the right side of the limit."
Does such a long spell without winning make you doubt your own potential?
"All rally drivers are convinced they are the best. I'm the same, whatever the situation. The competition is so close this year that being able to beat Petter Solberg is a good sign of how competitive we are, but Sebastien Loeb is an awesome rival. His team is very strong and he has all the cards in hand to make the absolute most of his immense natural talent. I was in the same situation a few years back with the 206 WRC. If I had the same feeling now I had then, we could still be the best. Unfortunately, there is this sneaky feeling that something's lacking, a small 'plus' that could make all the difference. That tiny something is proving difficult to find, but the whole team is looking for it. Nobody has given up, especially not Marcus Gronholm!"