Two-time World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm will travel to the United States to compete in the first round of the Global RallyCross Championship on March 25-26 at Irwindale Speedway on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Gronholm, who will drive a 600hp all-wheel-drive Best Buy-sponsored Ford Fiesta in the contest, joins a list of top-ranked international motorsport and action sport stars racing in the Global RallyCross Championship. Also planning to compete are three-time X Games Rally gold medalist Tanner Foust in his Ford Fiesta, Rhys Millen and five-time British rally champion Marcus Dodd in Hyundai Veloster rallycross cars, and Subaru Rally Team USA's Dave Mirra in a Subaru WRX STI.
"Rallycross is good fun, with a lot of cars running at the same time," said Gronholm. "It's quite different from rally but it's excellent to come to the USA and it feels nice to be involved again with the team."
In addition to two WRC titles (2000, 2002), the legendary Finnish driver also won the 2002 Race of Champions and earned the Nations' Cup at the contest in 2006. He also took on the 2009 Pike's Peak International Hill Climb in a similarly prepared Ford Fiesta and will be reunited with the Olsbergs MSE team for this event.
Drivers in the Global RallyCross Championship are vying for a chance to win the first series title – and a chance to earn an invitation to X Games 17 Rally competitions held in downtown Los Angeles this July. Two-wheel-drive entries also have a shot at a $5,000 prize purse to benefit grass-roots competitors at the contest.
The series will benefit from a multi-year programming relationship with ESPN, with Global RallyCross Championship broadcasts slated to follow NASCAR Nationwide and NHRA shows on ESPN and ESPN2 with live event streaming on ESPN3.
“We are involved in rallycross in the UK and this is a great opportunity for Best Buy to be involved in the new Global RallyCross series," said Mark Williams, president of Best Buy Financial Services. "Our customers can play the video games featuring the cars and watch the races on their home theater systems – all purchased from Best Buy!”
Racing this month will take place on an inventive dirt and pavement track configuration on the speedway oval. The highlight of the course is a huge gap jump that will see competition cars fly 70ft through the air. This is the first time a gap jump has ever been included in rallycross competition outside the X Games environment.
"We're thrilled that Marcus Gronholm will join us for the first round of Global RallyCross Championship," said series co-founder Chip Pankow. "We are building a truly international series featuring top talent from around the world."
Following the Irwindale event, the series will travel to a rural-industrial complex outside of Seattle, for Round 2 April 15-16, and meet again in Colorado at Pikes Peak International Raceway for Round 3 June 17-18. Invitations for X Games Rally events will be announced soon after the conclusion of the third and final round of the 2011 series.
The RallyCar organization will sanction the Global RallyCross Championship events. Competitors in the Global RallyCross Championship may also elect to score points in U.S. Rallycross Championship events.