In the Colorado round of the Global Rallycross series, Marcus Gronholm finished second in the SuperRally competition to Tanner Foust. However, the second step on the podium served as an inspiration for the two-time WRC champion because the next day, Gronholm came out to dominate. As a result, he topped qualifying and led the final race flag-to-flag to deliver Ford another Global RallyCross Championship victory in the AWD RallyCross in his Fiesta. “It was a good finish,” said Gronholm. “The start is everything and I made it in front of Tanner, so could turn into the corner first, and that was the key. “Once you are in front you can do your own driving, and I knew we were fast and I could choose my own lines. Plus, we were lucky that we didn’t hit anybody. I saw that Tanner had fallen behind, but I didn’t know 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. Initially, there was uncertainty about whether either car had finished the race, but RallyCross Race Control confirmed Foust in second place, giving the Ford Fiesta a 1-2 finish.
Subsequently, that decision was reviewed and Foust was stripped of his second-place fin a ruling handed down by the series' sanctioning body. The officials ruled on-site that Foust had crossed the finish line in second place, but that ruling was reversed and he was declared a DNF (Did Not Finish). The following is a statement from Foust on the ruling:
"I’m incredibly disappointed in the Global Rally Championship's decision to DNF the Rockstar Fiesta two days after confirming our second-place finish. The GRC is breaking new grounds in automotive racing with this ruling stating that essentially a competitor can cause the car in front of them to DNF by pushing them off the track on the final stretch before the finish line. “It is unsafe and displays a complete lack of understanding of automotive racing from a steward in his first weekend in the sport. “In 16 years of racing, I've never disagreed with a racing organization's call more. What it means is that I'll have to push hard at X Games if we're going to keep the the Flying Finn Marcus Gronholm from winning the Global RallyCross Championship."
Foust’s epic battle with Jernberg was the embodiment of RallyCross as a sport. It appeared Foust had narrowly topped the Swedish driver when Foust’s Fiesta won a hard-fought battle into the final turn. However, Jernberg made a final move that spun both cars off the track. Although Foust brushed past the finish line, knocking over the scoring pylon as he went.
In the post-race confusion, Global RallyCross Race Control confirmed Foust as the second-place finisher and the podium celebration continued. Shortly thereafter, Global RallyCross Race Control put the result under official review pending a review of available video and photographical evidence. “I saw Jernberg coming and I could hear Ted (Foust’s spotter) in the microphone screaming for me to push,” explained Foust after the race. “I came through and tried to stay in my lane but knew I had a nose on him at least.
“However, he caught my back tire and we both ended up shooting off the side of the track. Unfortunately, there was a concrete wall at the side of the track. The Fiesta bounced on the wall, pirouetted and then landed. Luckily, it didn’t roll over and they tell me the car is fixable for X Games. So I claimed second place backwards!”
In March Gronholm had swept the season-opening weekend at Irwindale, CA and after missing Round 2 in Snoqualmie, WA, the WRC legend returned in his Best Buy Fiesta for Colorado.
Gronholm’s second-place finish to Tanner Foust in the Friday SuperRally was the first time the Finn 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 52.51sec as he crushed the competition in qualifying, edging his teammates Foust (52.9sec) and Brian Deegan (53.47sec), who were second and third overall. When the AWD A Main Final started, Gronholm was quickest off the line and drove 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 on 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.
In the SuperRally final, Tanner Foust has consistently said not many people have beat Marcus Gronholm in a rally car. However, he can now add his name to that short list.
The Colorado-native led a Ford Fiesta sweep of the Global RallyCross Championship SuperRally competition by beating Gronholm in the SuperRally final.
“It seemed as if it was coming down to what happened at Irwindale, where the Fords blasted through the pack and three of the top four would be Fiestas,” said Foust.
“Deegan got third, but once again it was Marcus and I in the final, but this time I got him. It came down to the first turn on the first lap. He beat me off the line so I went really wide to get a good line into the corner and just squeezed him into the second corner. That was the difference. It just happened to work and I think that he had a little understeer coming through there, so left the inside lane open. “All in all, it was a successful day. It was a challenge. We’re at altitude and it was hot, yet the Fiestas had the best reliability, were quickest, had the most power, and that’s why we are all on the podium.”
Gronholm hadn’t lost a heat in a GRC event until Foust edged him in the first turn. “Tanner passed me in the first turn when I was down on revs, and once you get behind, it’s hard to see,” said Gronholm. “I clipped the front of the Best Buy Fiesta on a barrier and it felt strange, so I didn’t attempt the jump in the second heat.”
Brian Deegan made his Global RallyCross debut and took third, edging out David Higgins in his Subaru. Deegan, a double silver medalist at X Games 2010, qualified fifth and eliminated two higher seeds en route to the podium result. “It was a good day,” said Deegan. “The last time I was in a rally car was almost a year ago at X Games, and this morning was a little frustrating as I forgot all the buttons and gauges. I had to get back into the swing of things and got more comfortable. I started studying the track and I actually ran head-to-head with Marcus [Gronholm], who is one of the best guys in a rally car. First day back, there are a lot of fast guys here and it is only getting harder.”