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WRC’s Superman Marcus Gronholm Talks on Before Rally Australia

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Marcus Gronholm at Rally Australia

BP Ford World Rally star, Marcus Gronholm loves his racing and he loves Australia. So before going to Perth to take part in Telstra Rally Australia, he came to Surfers Paradise to catch the Lexmark Indy 300.

The Finnish driver has taken in the sights of the Gold Coast including the world famous Dreamworld where he rode ‘Superman Escape Rollercoaster’ which took him from 0-100km/h in just two seconds.

Marcus does love his racing so while he had the chance, he came in to have a peek at the Champ Car practice sessions and V8 Supercars in action.

He had never seen a Champ Car or V8 Supercar in action before and he was impressed, as most are when they see these machines in action.

Gronholm also visited the Newman/Haas pit garage where he sat in the #1 Newman/Haas Lola Ford. Newman Haas drivers, Sebastian Bourdais and Bruno Junqueria were on hand while they compared their rides.

Not content with that, however, Gronholm strapped himself into a Ford Focus road car and took one lucky fan on the ride of a lifetime. In true Gronholm fashion, the Ford Focus was going quicker than what it should have been.

His only problem was that the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car. But that did not seem to bother him too much.

“[It is] not so good, there will be too many punctures and safety will go down and rally’s will be decided by punctures. I don’t understand it, I don’t like it,” said Gronholm.

After the action on track, Gronholm’s attention turned to next weeks Rally Australia where he will attempt to keep his 2006 World Rally Championship hopes alive. He will get a slight boost due to the absence of Sebastian Loeb but as Gronholm explains, there is still much competition.

“It’s not easy. [Petter] Solberg is getting better as is Australia’s Chris Atkinson and my teammate [Mikko Hirvonen],” said Gronholm.

Indeed Gronholm has another reason to win Rally Australia.

“Ford has never won there,” said Gronholm, and as this is the last Rally Australia taking place on the Perth stages, Gronholm would like to bring a victory to the blue oval.

The two-time World Rally Champion expressed his disappointment that Australia will not host a round in 2007. Because the series is not returning in 2007, Gronholm brought his family over for a visit.

But as recently announced, Australia will be back in 2008 with a rally on the east coast and Gronholm is excited.

“I like Australia, I think it will be good, it’s always interesting coming to new places,” commented the Finn.

While he finds that exciting, he is cautious over proposed new rules that will see World Rally Cars travel on tyres that does not contain a moose system. A moose system is a lining inside the tyre that inflates when the rubber is punctured. It enables the car finish the stage without having to change a wheel.

“[It is] not so good, there will be too many punctures and safety will go down and rally’s will be decided by punctures. I don’t understand it, I don’t like it,” said Gronholm.

He certainly left no room for interpretation in his comments about the new tyre rule.

But that is next year.

For now, Gronholm is off Perth to try and win his fourth Rally Australia crown and go a step further to reclaiming the World Rally Championship.

Interview and article by Sam Tickell on 20/06/2006