Legendary rally driver Marcus Grönholm wins Global RallyCross Championship: Last Chance

Written by manifest. Posted in Breaking News, Features

Published on June 20, 2011 with No Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS, CA (June 18, 2011 | GLOBAL RALLYCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP) – Two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm took a hard-fought rallycross victory Saturday at the Global RallyCross Championship: Last Chance, held at Pikes Peak International Raceway near Colorado Springs.

The legendary Finnish driver put in a consistently strong performance in the Best Buy Ford Fiesta, advancing into the final race with wins in every heat. “I am very happy for the win. I got the launch right and had a good start,” said Grönholm. “Then I was in front and just focused on my driving.”

Rockstar Energy Drink driver Tanner Foust was gunning to overtake Swede Michael Jernberg in Saturday’s action-packed eight-car RallyCross final when the duo got caught up in a crash mere feet before the finish timing line. Neither driver was hurt, but both cars were disabled at the side of the course while Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins and privateer Stephan Verdier drove past them to finish in second- and third-place, respectively.

“It’s a miracle finish, but I’ll take it,” said Verdier, a privateer driver who has made a series of impressive appearances at the front of the pack this season.

Initial confusion over whether Foust or Jernberg had indeed crossed the finish left the final results in dispute but, when the dust settled, officials were able to review official ESPN TV race footage and conclusively verify the result. It was a heartbreaker for both Foust and Jernberg, who had battled each other all day and were the closest challengers to leader Grönholm.

Foust bested Grönholm to take victory a day earlier in the head-to-head SuperRally competition. A strong start, critical in these two disciplines, eluded the veteran rally driver and he had to settle for second place behind Foust. Rounding out an all-Ford Fiesta podium on Friday was motocross veteran Brian Deegan who had returned to the car for the first time since earning a pair of silver medals in the rally disciplines at X Games 16.

The two-wheel-drive category saw Swede Mikael Eriksson take wins in both SuperRally and RallyCross disciplines, while series regular Andrew Sutherland finished runner-up.

The third Global RallyCross Championship event saw a field of top drivers in two-wheel and all-wheel drive classes competing head-to-head on a mixed dirt and tarmac course that featured a massive, 70-foot gap jump never seen before outside of X Games competition. Drivers competed in a head-to-head format on Friday, and took on aggressive, multi-car rallycross racing on Saturday that culminated in an action-packed, eight-car final race for the win.

The event featured a roster of top drivers from around the world, including Australian freestyle motocross rider Robbie “Maddo” Maddison, who tried his hand at the sport for the first time. He took on the two-wheel drive category in an underpowered production-based car, while UK rallycross driver Liam Doran returned to the US for the first time since 2010 to compete in a rented Subaru.

In addition to the fierce door-to-door competition at Pikes Peak International Raceway, drivers were also available for autograph sessions; a vendor midway offered further entertainment for fans.

Among the notable guests on-hand to watch Saturday’s contest were Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima, a famed rally and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb driver who was in town this week as he prepares for next weekend’s Race to the Clouds. Local favorites Jimmy Keeney and Nathan Conley brought out the cheers as they put on a great show for many friends and family in the grandstands.

Drivers in the Global RallyCross Championship are vying for the first-ever series titles, which will be determined in an exciting finale at Games 17 Rally competitions held in downtown Los Angeles this July.

The top teams in the series, along with some additional invited drivers, will travel to California to take part in the rally car racing competitions at X Games 17 July 30 and 31.

Already invited to compete are 2010 X Games 16 double-gold medalist Foust, X Games16 double-silver medalist Deegan, Subaru Rally Team USA driver Dave Mirra, Hyundai Rallycross driver Millen, and Grönholm. Travis Pastrana is planning a big X Games week with motocross, rally car racing and a NASCAR event all on his calendar.

Five additional, not-already-invited drivers, are expected to receive invitations to the high-profile California contest based on their performance in the Global RallyCross Championship series. The Last Chance event represented their final opportunity to amass points in the series before X Games.

Jernberg and Verdier are the two not-already-invited drivers with highest RallyCross and SuperRally combined points-totals in the All-Wheel-Drive Super class. Jimmy Keeney and Joseph Burke earned the most points in the All-Wheel-Drive Limited class, while driver Dillon Van Way is the top points scorer in two-wheel drive.

Complete coverage of the Global RallyCross Championship: Last Chance will air on June 25 at 9 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN and ESPN2.

About RallyCross Management
West Hollywood, CA based RallyCross Management is the owner and organizer of the three-round Global RallyCross Championship and manages invitations and competition for X Games rally events. Working with ESPN, the company will bring the excitement of rallycross racing to millions of households in over 170 countries.

More Information
To find out more, including ticket sales, competitor information and registration details, visit www.global-rallycross.com Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GlobalRallyCross and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlobalRallyX Photo: Aaron Kathman | Global RallyCross Championship

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