COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, 19 July 2009 – As a two-time World Rally Champion, Marcus Grönholm had seen just about everything in a rally course . . . until he came to Pikes Peak.

Grönholm drove his production based Ford Fiesta rallycross car, prepared by Olsbergs Motor Sport Evolution, to second in the ‘Unlimited Class’ and fifth fastest time overall at the 87th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb at Colorado Springs in the United States yesterday (Sunday). Grönholm captured Pikes Peak 'Rookie of the Year' honours as he posted a run of 11min 28.963sec up the 12.4-mile, 156-turn course which runs up the famous Pikes Peak Highway.

Grönholm fought not only the high altitude and diverse road and weather conditions on the famed course, which climbs from around 2800 metres to just over 4200 metres at an average rate of ascent of seven per cent, but also a mechanical issue with the turbo charger on his 800-horsepower Fiesta rallycross car which resulted in a power reduction during the crucial final climb to the top.

"I always wanted to compete at Pikes Peak,” said Grönholm. "Having been here over the last week I have to admit that it is one of the most challenging events I have ever done in my career. This is one of those events that you will want to tell people that you came and competed in.

"I had heard about Pikes Peak and seen the famous film shot on the mountain with Ari Vatanen 20 years ago, but only when you come here do you realise how much of a challenge it is.

"The handling of the Fiesta is absolutely fantastic, and the BF Goodrich tires were great. Unfortunately we had a few small problems on the run today. I lost some power during the last few kilometres, but I was determined to finish. The Fiesta has huge potential, and could beat the 10-minute record. If I come back I know what we need to do to be fastest," added the 41-year-old Finn.

Team-mate Andreas Eriksson’s first trip to Pikes Peak was cut short in Engineer’s Corner (2 mile mark) when two tyres slipped off their rim and sent the Olsbergs MSE Fiesta off course where it clipped a tree and sustained damage to the rear wing.

The retirement brought an end to a frustrating introduction for Eriksson to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. "I'm disappointed because the car was handling fantastic through the early portion of the course," he said. "Overall it was a tough week. We had a lot of challenges, but we learned a lot and I know what I need to do now to come back and be fastest.

"While it is still a year until the new Ford Fiesta comes to America it was a great opportunity to showcase the versatility and performance capabilities of the car at one of the most challenging motorsports events in the world," said Jost Capito, Ford Motor Company Director of Global Motorsports Business Development. "The Olsbergs MSE team did an outstanding job competing at Pikes Peak for the first time and now they have an opportunity to campaign their Fiestas at the X Games (30 July - 2 August)."

In Europe, the Fiesta name has long been synonymous with outstanding driving quality, design and value. The all-new Ford Fiesta is set to bring that three-decade heritage to North American consumers when the car goes on sale there next year.

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