The win in the new Ford Focus RS marked both Ford's 50th world rally victory, and Gronholm's 38th birthday, so the team has plenty of reasons to celebrate tonight!
Gronholm's win didn't come without its share of drama. Starting the day with a 25.1 sec lead over Sebastien Loeb, Gronholm had his lead cut to only 14.4 sec during the day's third stage when a hydraulic line failed on his Focus, disabling the Focus' active differential and covering the windshield with hydraulic fluid. After repairs, Gronholm put the hammer down, scoring the fastest time on each of the final three stages to win by 30.9 sec. More after the jump... Loeb was unable to match Gronholm's speed in the snow and ice of the WRC's only hard-core winter rally of the season. He will be looking forward to the gravel rallies to come. Daniel Carlsson (Mitsubishi) finished third, only 26 sec behind Loeb, and a scant 7 sec ahead of teammate Gigi Galli.
The second BP-Ford Focus, piloted by Mikko Hirvonen (above), charged back from 33rd place after a mechanical failure on Friday to finish in the points in 12th overall, helping Ford to maintain its lead in the manufacturers championship.
Next up is the 2006 season's first gravel event, Rally Mexico, on March 2-6.
[Source: Ford Racing]