Gronholm stop aan het einde van dit zeizoen.
Rally legend Grönholm to retire at end of 2007 season:
BP -Ford World Rally Team driver Marcus
Grönholm and co-driver Timo Rautiainen will both
retire from the FIA World Rally Championship at the end of the 2007
season.The Finns are one
of the sport's most successful pairings ever and stand second in the
list of all time rally wins with
30. They twice won the Drivers' world title and currently lead the 2007
standings at the wheel of a
Ford Focus RS World Rally car in pursuit of a third crown.
Thirt-nine -year-old Grönholm said the decision was difficult, but he
believed the time was right as
he wanted to retire while still at the top level of the sport. This
season he has already won five
rallies to open a 10 -point lead in the Drivers' Championship with five
rounds remaining, and help
the Blue Oval build a 46-point lead in the Manufacturers' standings.
Grönholm arrived late in the WRC. After winning the Finnish championship
four times, he made
the breakthrough into the WRC in 1999. A year later he lifted the
Drivers' title on his first
attempt at the full championship and claimed a second crown in 2002 .He
joined BP-Ford in 2006
and after a dream start with victory on his first two events in Monte
Carlo and Sweden, he
claimed a personal best seven wins to help Ford claim its first
Manufacturers' title since 1979.
Victory in August's Rally Finland meant Grönholm became the first driver
to win a full WRC
event on seven occasions.
Rautiainen, 42, first co-drove for Grönholm in 1990. He spent several
years out of the sport but
the pair joined forces again in 1995 and have since enjoyed the
longest-running partnership in the
WRC. "This has been an incredibly hard decision for me to make," said
Grönholm. "Rallying has
been my life for so many years and when the Monte Carlo Rally comes
round in January to start
next year's championship, it will feel strange not to be there. But the
time is right for me to finish
now. I wanted to stop while I still had the speed to win rallies. I
didn't want to leave the decision
too late so that I wasn't capable of winning any longer.
"This will allow me to spend more time with my wife and three children.
They have fully supported
me all the way through my career and I would like to thank them for that.
I could not have
achieved what I have without their encouragement. Now this decision is
made, I want to
concentrate on the remaining five rounds of the season. We lead both the
Manufacturers' Championships and I would like nothing to more than to
end my career with
another title," he said.
Ford of Europe President and CEO John Fleming acknowledged Grönholm's
Ford's recent WRC successes. "Marcus has done a superb job for the team
and it is no
coincidence that his arrival in 2006, coupled with the introduction of
the new Focus RS World
Rally car, signalled the start of one of our most successful periods in
the WRC. We greatly
appreciate his contribution during the last two seasons and will miss
him and the inspiration he
brings to the team," he said.
Ford Team RS director Jost Capito added: "I will be sorry to see Marcus
go but he will leave
behind some great memories at Ford. He played an influential part in our
first world title for 27
years last season and his appetite for victory is undiminished this year.
He is one of only two
drivers to have won 30 rallies in the WRC and he will go into the
history books as one of the
sport's all-time greats. On behalf of the whole team, I would like to
thank Marcus and Timo for
their whole-hearted commitment during the past two seasons and wish them
the best of luck for
BP-Ford team director Malcolm Wilson paid tribute to Grönholm. "I'm
sorry that he is going to
stop but I fully respect his decision. His driving achievements speak
for themselves but his input
to the team, in particular his encouragement and help to Mikko Hirvonen,
will be greatly missed
as they have formed the strongest driving partnership in the WRC. We
knew his retirement was a
possibility. We are developing plans for next season and when they are
finalised we will confirm
them. In the meantime I would like to try to help Marcus and Timo to
achieve a unique feat by
ending their careers with a world title in their final season together,"
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