After a week of heavy build up and much anticipation, Sunday saw the Pikes Peak hill climb finally get under way. The anticipation of the classic event was built up even more than usual with news that Marcus Gronholm would participate in an 800 hp rallycross derived Ford Fiesta. Suzuki had their usual pit bull Suzuki Sport XL7 in top form as the battle was set to take place.
Once the event got under way however, Gronholm would quickly find that Pikes Peak is a different breed. One that is cruel to cars and competitors alike. Gronholm suffered from overheating problems most of the day and had a turbo failure near the peak on his timed run. Gronholm only could manage a fifth place overall and 2nd position in his unlimited class. Gronholm had positive things to say about his Fiesta, praising the cars handling capability and its performance on the tarmac surface. The dirt and gravel offered a bit more of a challenge to the new Ford in its maiden competition here in the states. The Ford Fiesta is a very highly anticipated launch here in the states with Tanner Foust amongst others will continue the huge American launch when he takes to the X Games in one.
Swedish rallycross star Andreas Eriksson played teammate to Marcus this weekend in a sister Fiesta, but was a non factor. Eriksson crashed the car during practice and followed that act with a roll in the timed event. Overall a bitter weekend for the Ford guys, but Marcus was very happy and said that he would love to return next year and give the event another shot.
The overall winner for this year’s event was Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima and his Suzuki XL7. His overall time however was 14 seconds slower than that of his previous record, showing that the majestic 10 minute barrier remained for yet another year.
It is great to see the event attract such stars as Marcus and is a very big deal for Ford in their attempts at launching the Fiesta once again. The car is brilliant and the handling will be great as Ford brings a model that is a proven rally competitor to the states to team with the also awesome Focus. Now if we can only get the most recent model of the Focus off the showroom and bring the Euro design here, that would be truly a great day. Two proven rally winning cars gracing American soil for consumers to purchase? I guess it makes too much sense.