PROFILE1987: Started rallying with Ford Escort
1988: Drives with Opel, Finnish Junior Champion with his sister Mia
1989: Finished 23rd in Rally Finland with Group N Lancia on his WRC debut
1990: Drives Group N Toyota
1991: Group N Finnish Champion with Toyota
1992: Drives Group A Toyota,
1993: 10th in Rally Finland with Toyota
1994: 5th in Rally Finland with Toyota, Finnish Champion
1995: Three WRC events with Toyota, 2nd in Rally Finland (only F2 event)
1996: 7th in Swedish Rally and 4th in Rally Finland with Toyota, 10th WRC for Drivers, Finnish Champion
1997: Five WRC events with Toyota, 4th in Rally Argentina and 5th in RAC, Finnish Champion
1998: Six WRC events with Toyota, 5th in Swedish Rally, Finnish Champion
1999: Contract with Peugeot, drives also with SEAT and Mitsubishi, 4th in Rally Finland
2000: Full WRC programme with Peugeot, 1st WRC win in Sweden, Winner of four WRC events, World Champion
2001: Wins in Finland, Australia and Great Britain with Peugeot, 4th WRC for Drivers
2002: Wins in Sweden, Cyprus, Finland, New Zealand and Australia with Peugeot, World Champion
2003: Win in Sweden, New Zealand and Argentina with Peugeot, 6th WRC for Drivers
2004: Drives Peugeot, Win in Finland, 5th WRC for Drivers
2005: Drives Peugeot, Win in Finland and Japan, 3rd WRC for Drivers
2006: Contract with Ford, Win in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Greece, Finland, Turkey, New Zealand, Great Britain, 2nd WRC for Drivers
5/2/1968 at Kauniainen, lives at Inkoo
World Drivers' Champion:
Marcus Grönholm is a second generation driver, whose achievements have already surpassed those of his late father Ulf, who was a leading Finnish rally driver in the 1970's. He achieved fame when he became Finnish Junior Rally Champion in 1988. Then he won Finnish Group N Champion in 1991 and was picked up by Toyota´s works team to drive in 1992 Rally Finland at the age of just 24. He shared fastest time on first stage, but crashed then. In the Finnish Championship series he placed third and the result was the same in the following year.
After several unlucky outings on WRC level, excellent fourth in Argentina and fifth in RAC 1997. His career´s highlight was in 1997, when he made the world debut of the Toyota Corolla WRC at the Manttä Rally in Finland, finishing third overall behind Sebastian Lindholm´s and Jarmo Kytolehto´s teo Ford Escorts. The car and Gronholm proved rapid, leading their first WRC event in Rally Finland, but succumbed to teething troubles and retired with a fuel pressure glitch. The next outing, at the RAC was more successful, and Gronholm chalked up the first points for a works Toyota since TTEs exclusion at the end of 1995.
He continued with Toyota in 1998, in a works assisted Corolla, though he started the year in his trusty Group A Celica. It was this car that was to give the Finn his highest result of the year, another fifth, this time in Sweden. World outings were not a success, but in Rally Finland 1998 he finally showed that his speed is among world top drivers. He recorded the most number of fastest stage times, beating even runaway winner Tommi Mäkinen. Grönholm was fastest on eight SS compare to winner Mäkinen who won five SS. He put in a storming drive, and would be placed at least fourth place overall but bad luck on legendary Ouninpohja stage delayed him three and half minutes and he was seventh overall. Before the Ouninpohja stage he was third, seven seconds behind Carlos Sainz and a couple of seconds ahead of Juha Kankkunen. After the event, the works teams approached Grönholm and his dream came true - be in line for a works team.
In 1999, after two one-off appearances for SEAT and Mitsubishi, neither of which registered finishes, Gronholm was taken on by Peugeots WRC squad for the five events to be undertaken by the new 206WRC. On the first, in Greece, Gronholm succumbed to clutch failure, but in two of the next three events, registered points with a fourth in Finland and a fifth in Australia. On the Rally GB, Gronholm proved to be something of a star, revelling in the loose conditions and leading at times, until an accident put him out on the second day.
In Sweden 2000 he recorded his first ever World Rally Championship win and also that of the 206WRC, 14 years after Peugeot last won a WRC round (the 1986 RAC Rally). He won also New Zealand, Finland and Australia and was leading the WRC series by nine points before the final event. He had to be in top five and he did it. He was second in Rally Great Britain and a dream came true. He achieved World Rally Championship in his and the 206 WRC's first full season in the world championship. Gronholm is the only driver apart from Carlos Sainz in 1990 to win his first world championship event and the drivers' title during the same season.
During the season 2001 all went wrong. He struggled in the early part of the year with just one point from the opening eight events. A late season recovery gave him an outside chance of the title, but victories in the final two rounds in Australia and Britain proved too late. It was not enough to fight for the title and he placed fourth in the series.
All changed in 2002. He did not make any mistakes and consistency on all road surfaces earn him the championship already in New Zealand, where he took the 11th World rally victory of his career and secured the 2002 World Rally Championship crown, when two events was still remaining. The Drivers’ crown returned to Finland for the 13th time in the 24-year history of the Championship.
In 2003 the season started well. He won in Sweden, New Zealand and in Argentina and it seemed that nobody can stop Gronhom. After that all things went wrong. He had many mechanical problems and made stupid mistakes and lost his lead in the Championship placing sixth in the series.
In 2004 he kept on driving with Peugeot. In Cyprus he took the first victory for Peugeot´s all-new 307 WRC, but was excluded after the event. The stewards of the Cyprus Rally have deemed that the water pumps fitted to the works Peugeots were illegal, handing victory to Sebastien Loeb and Citroen. In Finland he finally ended Peugeot's nine event victory drought, when he won his home event for the fourth time. During the end of the season Peugeot still had many mechanical problems and Gronholm made also driving errors and the final result was the fifth place in the series.
In 2005 Gronholm continued with Peugeot. PSA´s decision to withdraw from the World Rally Championship at the end of 2005 was a blow for Gronholm, but the team participated in 2005 contesting the full series. Sebastien Loeb dominated the season, but in Rally Finland Gronholm was able to end Loeb's six-rally winning run by beating the Frenchman. It was Gronholm's first victory since winning his home event 12 months ago and his fifth Rally Finland success. He was also able to win in Japan and placed third in the series. It also brought to an end a seven-year association between the Finn and the Peugeot team which yielded two drivers' titles, two manufacturers' titles and 18 rally wins.
For the season 2006 Gronholm signed a two-year contract with Ford to head Blue Oval´s renewed assault on the World Rally Championship. The team was hoping that addition of Gronholm to its driving strength will allow the team to challenge for its first drivers' and manufacturers' title since 1981 and 1979 respectively. Gronholm felt confident and hungry and he was very eager to take his third drivers' title. The season started perfectly, when he won the Rallye Monte Carlo. It was his first win on asphalt and also the first victory for the new Ford Focus RS WRC06. In Sweden he claimed his fourth victory in this event and the 20th in his WRC career. The Finn led from start to finish celebrated his 38th birthday on the winners' podium. In Mexico he was leading, but own mistake ended the rally and in the following events he was very unlucky. Mechanical problems dropped him from the lead in Spain, Argentina and Italy and he was not able to match Loeb´s speed in Corsica. In Greece Gronholm won his third rally of the season and led led for almost the entire four-day event, excelling in the toughest conditions experienced in the FIA World Rally Championship for many years. In Finland Gronholm took his sixth win in his home event in seven years and got closer to Hannu Mikkola's record of seven wins in Finland. Only 12 seconds separated Gronholm and Loeb after Leg 1 and a long battle was expected for the rest of the rally. Surprisingly this time Gronholm was lucky, when both drivers successively hit a hidden rock in Ouninpohja stage. While Gronholm ‘survived' the incident with no sequel, Loeb had a puncture and lost 30 seconds and the fight was over. In Turkey he took a dominant win in the absence of runaway points leader Sebastien Loeb. In Australia his championship chances ended as he was unable to make up the time needed to finish third and maintain his title hopes. Gronholm rolled his Ford on the SS 3 and was not able to achieve his goal. He finished fifth allowing Sebestian Loeb to mathematically claim his third straight championship title, despite not contesting the rally. He took his sixth victory of the season in New Zealand and secured the FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers' title for Ford and in Great Britain he took seventh win of the season in the final round of the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship. At the end of the series, finally just one point separated Loeb and Gronholm in the battle for the title.