Marcus Gronholm Goes After Pike's Peak Record

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IMay 31, 2009

Two time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm will challenge the Pike’s Peak International hill climb on 19 July in a four-wheel drive, 800 horsepower Ford Fiesta.

Gronholm will endeavor to set a new record time in the ‘Unlimited Class’ at Pike’s Peak, in an attempt to be the first to break the 10-minute mark over the 12.4-mile, 156-turn asphalt and gravel course. The existing record of 10min. 1.41sec was set in 2007 by former Suzuki World Rally Team boss, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima driving a 3.6 liter twin turbo Suzuki XL-7.

Over the years the event has proved a popular attraction for stars of the WRC. In 1985 Audi Quattro driver Michele Mouton became the first woman to win it, while in 1988 Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen famously took a one-two victory with Peugeot which became the subject of the award winning short film, “Climb Dance.”

Gronholm will be one half of a two car team entered by the Swedish Rallycross outfit Olsberg Motor Sport Evolution. The other car will be driven by the team’s owner, four-time Swedish rally champion Andreas Eriksson, 35.

The Olsbergs MSE Fiesta Rallycross car is powered by a 2.0-litre Duratec Ford engine capable of more than 800 horsepower.  The engine used is based on the same Duratec engine that is found in such popular cars as the Ford Focus and Mazda 3.  

“We are excited to be bringing the car to Pike’s Peak and to be able to see what it can do in such a unique competition,” said Eriksson. “It’s a legendary event, and we’ve already been there to take a look at the challenge we will face. I’m convinced we’ll be a top contender to break the 10-minute mark.”

The Pike's Peak International Hill Climb dates back to 1916 and is the second oldest motorsports event in America after the Indy 500. It takes place at the famous mountain peak that towers above Colorado Springs in the Rocky Mountains and is often referred to as “The Race to the Clouds.”