The two-time world rally champion reunited with his 2000 and 2002 championship winning co-driver Timo Rautiainen to make a return to competitive rallying at the all-new event in northern Italy, celebrating Group A and WRC car era machinery.
The rally, held in the town of Varzi, is the brainchild of former Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo, and marked Gronholm’s first rally outing since Rally Sweden in 2019 when he and Rautiainen campaigned a Toyota Yaris WRC car.
Competing in a 2008 WRC specification Subaru Impreza, Gronholm went off the road at the flying finish of the rally’s opening stage on Friday night. It has been reported that the 55-year-old and his co-driver are okay following the incident.
Gronholm has however been forced to retire from the rally after the car, a similar model to which he drove on Rally Portugal in 2009, sustained significant damage.
The accident occurred after the pair had clocked what ultimately proved to be the stage winning time, 8.1s faster than Frenchman Patrick Magnou, driving a Peugeot 306 Maxi.
Gronholm previously rallied in Impreza on Rally Portugal in 2009
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Former WRC driver Andreas Mikkelsen was third fastest, 14.0s adrift, driving an S2000 specification Skoda Fabia.
Ex-factory Hyundai and Mitsubishi WRC driver Alister McRae ended the stage in fifth overall (+23.1s) driving a version of the iconic Subaru Impreza his late older brother Colin drove to win the 1995 world title.
The rally continues with six more stages on Saturday.2023-05-26T21:47:50Z dg43tfdfdgfd