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World Rally Champion prepares for Pikes Peak outing

Double World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm has tested the Ford Fiesta he will drive at the Pikes Peak hillclimb in America next month.

The Finn drove the car, run by the Olsberg Motor Sport Evolution team, for two days in Sweden, completing the test last night.

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The test marked Gronholm's only chance to drive the car before he arrives in the US, when he will test in Colardo just before making his debut at the July 19 event.

"The car was quite good," said Gronholm. "We have lots of power. It's 800 horse power, which is very nice! But it's not easy to get all of that power down, at the moment, it's a bit like a switch, so we have some more work to do.

"I wouldn't say I feel confident now. I feel better having driven the car, so I know more about what it's going to be like in the car, but the place we tested was not so much like Pikes Peak - it was Sweden. So, we have to wait until we get to America for the next test. Let's see then."

Gronholm will be joined by rallycross expert Andreas Eriksson at the event, where the two Fiestas will run in the unlimited class. They will attempt to become the first drivers to break the ten-minute barrier through the 12.4-mile hill.

The pair will face stiff competition from Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima and his Suzuki SX4 Hillclimb Special. Tajima, the former boss of the Suzuki World Rally Team, holds the record for the hill, at 10m01.408s - which he set in 2007.

Tajima said: ""The mountain is not a place for the feint hearted - it's a very specialised course, long and very challenging with its own unique characteristics that take years to come to terms with.

"Car set-up is also something that is unique to this event and without previous experience on the mountain, I am sure that the newcomers will find this event a huge challenge."

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