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GP Week : Issue 1
11 WRC news >> Gronholm tests Rallycross Retired WRC star has a secret taste of a 500bhp Fiesta! RETIRED world championship rally driver Marcus Gronholm drove Andreas Eriksson’s European championship rallycross Fiesta ST at a secret test south of Stockholm last Monday (March 3). He experienced first hand the powers of acceleration and braking of a car that provides more than 500bhp and over 800Nm of torque. He told friends that he has been inundated by requests from rallycross teams in Sweden, who overheard comments he made during a visit to the recent Swedish Rally. He confirmed he is interested in this sport, but added that his contract with Ford, which limits the types of car he could drive in competition, continues. He said he was in discussions with personal sponsors to discover if they wanted this rallycross project to happen. – MARTIN HOLMES Is Marcus Gronholm headed to Rallycross? End of the Road for Eugene REIGNING Global Group Irish Tarmac Rally Champion Eugene Donnelly has withdrawn his efforts to win the premier national title for a fifth successive time. His final championship rally was in Galway last month when he had to retire with gearbox problems. The 41-year-old driver from Maghera, County Londonderry, won his first rally title, the Irish Forestry championship in 2002, but has now been unable to find funding to continue his quest. Donnelly has been rallying for 23 years and is one of two rallying brothers. Both he and brother Charlie have been champions in their own right. In 2006, Charlie won the Irish National series and Eugene once again the Irish Tarmac series, both driving the same car, a Toyota Corolla WRC! “I am really disappointed that I’m missing a chance of a lifetime to go for a record fifth consecutive title and therefore equal Austin MacHale’s record,” Eugene said. “I’ve had a great career to date and I feel very, very lucky to have had that.” The next major rally in Ireland is the Circuit of Ireland based at Newcastle, County Down, on 21-22 March, which will start without one of Ireland’s most successful rally drivers. – MARTIN HOLMES THE Ciocco Rally, opening round of the Italian Rally Championship, was abandoned after a spectator fatality. The rally was halted after a lady spectator died her dog pulled her into the path of a competing car. All four official teams participating on the event (Abarth, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Subaru) collectively supported the decision to stop the event. Involved in the incident was 44-year- old former Lancia and Mitsubishi world championship driver Andrea Aghini, who was at the wheel of a Group N Subaru Impreza. This was his second sadness in the sport. Nearly five years ago Aghini’s codriver Loris Roggia collapsed and died as they were driving on a special stage at the Salento Rally in their Peugeot 206 S1600. Leading the event when it was stopped was Piero Longhi, Aghini’s teammate, who was 0.3 second in front of Luca Rossetti’s Peugeot while Abarth driver Renato Travaglia was third ahead of Luca Cantamessa’s Mitsubishi. – MARTIN HOLMES Tragedy strikes Italian rally