Friday afternoon Marcus Gronholm finished second in the SuperRally competition to Tanner Foust. The second-place podium served as an inspiration for the two-time WRC champion. The next day, Gronholm came out to dominate – he topped qualifying and led the final race flag-to-flag to deliver Fiesta another Global RallyCross Championship victory in the AWD RallyCross, this time at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
“It was a good finish,” said Gronholm. “Everything is about the start here and I made it in front of Tanner and therefore I could turn in first into the corner and that was the key. “Once you are in front you can do your own driving and I knew that we were fast and I could choose my own lines. Plus we were lucky in that we didn't hit anybody. I saw that Tanner had fallen behind, but I didn't know that he had crashed at the finish line.”
GRC championship leader Tanner Foust claimed second after his Rockstar Fiesta was punted across the timing line by Michael Jernberg. At first there was uncertainty if either car had finished but RallyCross Race Control confirmed Foust the second place finisher giving Ford and Fiesta a 1-2 finish, a result which is currently under review.
Foust's epic battle with Jernberg in the RallyCross finale was an embodiment of RallyCross as a sport. It appeared Foust had narrowly topped the Swedish driver, when the Fiesta won a hard-fought battle into the final turn. However, Jernberg's desperation move spun both cars off the track as Foust brushed past the finish line, knocking over the scoring pylon as he went.
In the normal post-race confusion that was enhanced by the spectacular collision at the finish line, after Global RallyCross race control confirmed Foust as the second-place finisher and the podium celebration continued. Shortly thereafter Global Rally Cross Race Control put the result under official review pending a review of available video and photographical evidence. That review is ongoing and official results are not expected until Sunday or Monday.
"That was not the ideal finish,” said Foust the defending X Games champion who narrowly missed clinching the GRC championship this weekend. “We all knew that part of the track had some danger built into it as the cars came together.
“I saw Jernberg coming I could hear Ted (his spotter) in the microphone screaming “push, push push.” I came through and I tried to stay in my lane but I knew I had a nose on him at least. He caught my back tire, he said he came through ‘a little bit hot,' and we both ended up shooting off the side of the track. Unfortunately there was a big concrete wall off the side of the track. I went off and saw the concrete wall and I learned some new words in Swedish from my spotter on the radio. The Fiesta bounced on the wall and kind of pirouetted and then it landed. Luckily it didn't go over. They say the car is fixable for X Games. So I claimed second place backwards. We will take it.”
In March Gronholm swept the season-opening weekend at Irwindale and after missing Round 2 in Snoqualmie, Wash., the WRC legend returned in his Best Buy Fiesta. Gronholm's second-place finish to Tanner Foust in the Friday SuperRally, was the first time the native of Finland had lost a heat in the GRC. He quickly regained his form on Saturday.
Gronholm came back with a vengeance and posted a qualifying lap of 52.51 seconds as he crushed the competition in qualifying, edging his teammates Foust (52.9 sec.) and Brian Deegan (53.47 sec.) who were second and third overall. When the AWD A Main Final started Gronholm was quickest off the line and drove away running a flawless race en route to his second RallyCross and third win overall in the GRC.
Brian Deegan qualified third for the A Main Final and was running in the top four when a mechanical issue sidelined his Metal Mulisha Rockstar Fiesta. He finished eighth in the final race.
The Global RallyCross Championship will return to action at X Games 17 July 28-31 in Los Angeles. Invitations to X Games are expected to be issued in the next ten days and Foust, Gronholm and Deegan are all expected to participate.