Kick Energy rally driver Steve Perez is intent on winning this year's Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship having taken delivery of the last rally car that double world champion Marcus Gronholm drove in competition.
The Chesterfield businessman has bought the Ford Focus RS WRC 07 that the Finn used on Rally GB in 2007. Gronholm also drove it to beat Sebastien Loeb by 0.3 seconds in New Zealand that year, the closest finish in WRC history.
"I heard that my title rival, Paul Bird, had been to M-Sport to buy one, so I thought I'd better get in first!" said Perez who currently has a 2005-spec Focus.
"I recently tested a different 2007 car in Greystoke Forest, and it's an awesome machine to drive. Although it hasn't got active differentials, the developments on the car mean the traction and weight distribution are really impressive. Mark Higgins is going to help me set the car up and give me some tuition on how to drive it."
The car was used by drivers in M-Sport's second string Stobart VK and Munchi's teams last season, including Francois Duval and Matthew Wilson. Its last competitive outing was on Rally GB last year, when Henning Solberg retired with broken suspension.
The Focus will be liveried in the colours of Perez's Kick Energy brand and he will keep his 2005 car as a back-up and plans to use it on Rally Barbados at the end of May.
Although he has put his other 2003-spec Focus up for sale, he is still planning to field his Lancia Stratos on several British Historic championship events, and has vowed to continue developing the Ferrari-powered supercar throughout the season.
Perez's season kicks off with the ANCRO season opener and the Bournemouth-based Rallye Sunseeker on February 27-28 and plans to contest around two dozen events in total during the year.