Mini return of mega legend – Grönholm to test Motorsport Italia Mini

Few days ago I was looking for more information about Marcus Grönholm, who sort of vanished (understandably!) after the serious accident he suffered during X Games practice session in US. Luckily, it seems Marcus is ready to jump back into the cockpit of a rally car once again – pity about the X Games though. It would be beyond amazing to see him and Sebastien Loeb go head to head on a rallycross track, but it simply wasn’t meant to happen.

Well, that was then, and this is now – Marcus is going to join Motorsport Italia team for testing and teaching next week. Main aim will be to prepare Michal Kosciuszko for the upcoming Rally Sweden, and who would be better teacher than double world champion. There are many subjects to discuss, from pure theory to hands-on practice, and this test alone will probably be one of the highlights of this season for the Polish driver.

Of course, to familiarize himself with the machine at hand, Grönholm will take Mini’s WRC car out for a run in the snow, just to see what is she made of. Further details are below, in typically “Ciao a tutti” styled PR from Motorsport Italia. Can we hope Mr. Grönholm is thinking about doing a proper WRC event once again? Either way, it’s great to know he is back to his usual business again, and I can’t wait for videos, photos and stories from this test to hit the Interwebs.

‘Ciao a tutti,

‘Bruno here. I’m very excited to be writing to you ahead of Rally Sweden. Monday is our pre-event test in Likenas, around 40km north of the Hagfors service park, and double World Champion Marcus Grönholm is joining us to tutor Michał on the snow.

‘Marcus is a legend in the world of rallying and one of the most inspiring drivers of all time. He proved himself in the WRC in every condition and has a huge amount of experience to call on. We’ll run for about 100km and Marcus will help Michał with the particular style of driving needed for Sweden based on how much a driver can use or ‘lean on’ the snow banks.

‘He’ll also take our MINI John Cooper Works WRC out for a spin and test her limits, which’ll allow us to compare his and Michał’s data on the 6km test stage, then work on speed-saving details like technical corner entry, mid-corner speed and corner exit. I’ve rarely met a driver as keen to learn and be the best he can be as Michał, so I’m sure that he and the team will benefit a lot from Marcus’ master class. Then before we pack up for the day, Michał will get the chance to drive a few runs in the dark, which’ll be vital experience.

‘We have a great new project this season and got off to a good start at Rallye Monte Carlo. Michał was pleased to finish in the Top 10 on his first round in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and the team is delighted to be fifth in the 2013 FIA Manufacturers’ Championship standings.

‘Rally Sweden will be an interesting event for us. It’s Michał’s first time out on the Swedish stages for eight years. The last time he competed there he was in a 2WD car and it was before Maciek was his navigator, so this is a big step for him.

‘Of course, Rally Sweden’s characterized by its extreme conditions. It’s a challenge for the team to work long hours in the cold, but we all enjoy heading out to the snow. It’s the wide variety of conditions that makes the WRC so interesting. Each event offers a different test.

‘We’re using DMACK winter tyres and looking forward to testing them after DMACK’s development over the past year. There have been changes in construction, compound and studding details to improve performance on the snow and ice of the fast Swedish stages.

‘The new studding technology was developed in-house in Finland where DMACK could use the expertise and experience of their Scandinavian partners to improve the complex process. The new T-bar studding system helps with stud retention and stability, which is essential for us, because the DMG-ICE will be the tyre that Michał uses throughout the event – eliminating the pressure of tyre choice in Monte!

‘That’s all for now – more from me on Thursday!