Whether it is ‘Flying Finns’, ‘Super Swedes’ or charismatic Norwegians like Petter Solberg, the rallying history books are littered with the heroic exploits of Nordic drivers. Over the ages, Markku Alén, Björn Waldegård, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, Timo Salonen, Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen and Solberg have all been crowned World Rally Champion but, when it comes to racking up WRC victories, none of those greats can match the achievements of Marcus Grönholm.
Despite not being signed up as a front-line factory driver until his early 30s, Grönholm stockpiled no fewer than 30 WRC rally victories between 2000 and 2007 – a tally only surpassed more recently by Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier.
Two of those famous wins came in Britain, first with Peugeot in 2001 and then with Ford in 2006 – and now ‘Magic Marcus’, the last Finn to win the title, will return to these shores this autumn as the ‘Official Rally Legend’ of the 2019 Wales Rally GB (3-6 October).
“It is very nice to be invited to be the official legend and I’m looking forward to being back in the atmosphere once again,” said Grönholm, who retired from full-time driving at the end of the 2007 season, though he has made three one-off appearances since.
“I haven’t been to Wales for many, many years but I have lots of good memories of the event. I won my first championship there [when finishing second behind Richard Burns in 2000] and we had a great party afterwards, and I also stopped my career on Rally GB – it was my last real WRC rally.”
In eight years at the top level, Grönholm amassed an impressive record of two Drivers’ crowns, five Manufacturers’ titles, 30 wins and 61 podiums.
“The history books don’t lie – those are remarkable achievements and Marcus is truly worthy of his legendary status,” said Hugh Chambers, CEO of Motorsport UK, organiser of Wales Rally GB. “We are delighted that Marcus will be our guest of honour at this year’s World Championship event and I know the British fans will welcome him back. This will be a very special year for the event as we are celebrating the 75th running of Rally GB – Marcus is a major part of that history and we are all looking forward to sharing memories with him come October.”
Full details of the route for the 2019 Wales Rally GB can be found at www.walesrallygb.com. Tickets for all 22 special stages are on sale, with adult admission starting from just £15. Moreover, there are considerable savings for all booking now and thus taking advantage of current early bird offers.
2019 WALES RALLY GB: OFFICIAL RALLY LEGEND
Born: Kauniainen, Finland on 5 February 1968
Lives: Helsinki, Finland
1991 Finnish Rally Champion (Group N)
1994 Finnish Rally Champion (Group A)
1996 Finnish Rally Champion (Group A)
1997 Finnish Rally Champion (Group A)
1998 Finnish Rally Champion (Group A)
2000 FIA World Rally Champion
2001 Network Q Rally of Great Britain winner
2002 FIA World Rally Champion
2006 Wales Rally GB winner
2006 FIA World Rally Championship runner-up
2007 FIA World Rally Championship runner-up
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