Marcus Gronholm is to come out of retirement following the announcement that the two-time World Rally Champion will take part in the fourth round of the 2009 season in Portugal.
The Finn, who retired from the WRC at the end of the 2007 season, had been linked to a possible return to the series this season with Subaru before the Japanese manufacturer elected to pull out of the sport.
However, he will now get the chance to compete in the Impreza WRC2008 after agreeing a deal with Prodrive to contest the Portuguese event.
“Prodrive approached and offered me a chance to compete in Portugal with the Subaru Impreza WRC2008 rally car,” Gronholm said. “After having a test in Norway, I decided to take the challenge.”
Gronholm added however that his decision to compete in Portugal wasn't a sign that he planned to return to the series on a full-time basis – although he will consider his feelings after the event.
“When I made a decision to retire from the WRC, I didn't say never to coming back,” he said. “However WRC Portugal is just a single event and nothing more. After the rally I have to analyze my feelings and to see what happens next.
“It will be fun to return, even in an ad-hoc way, in a car that I don't know at all and after a year where I competed in some rallycross events. It will be nice, as there was a chance of driving for Subaru just before the manufacturer decided to retire.”
Prodrive director Richard Taylor meanwhile said that talks with Gronholm had been ongoing for some time and hadn't been halted by Subaru's WRC withdrawal.
“It's no secret that we were talking with Marcus at the end of last year,” he told the official series website. “He had some interest in coming back so we kept the discussions going and we've reached an agreement to go to Portugal. It's a one-off at this time but we'll see if he likes it.
“We have to allow for the fact that we're not able to homologate the 2009 car fully, but we'll put together the best spec of car that we possibly can.”
Gronholm's car will be an evolution of the one used by Petter Solberg
and Chris Atkinson