Marcus Gronholm is in the hunt for a podium finish on his return to World Rally Championship competition with a run to fourth on day one of the Rally Portugal.
The former Peugeot and Ford driver has enjoyed a mostly trouble free day as he continues to adapt to the Prodrive-prepared Subaru Impreza, setting competitive lap times to sit in second position for much of the day.
Although he lost the opportunity to take the lead on SS4 when he was slow getting away, a consequence of having been told the stage was to be cancelled, Gronholm went on to drop two positions on the final stage of the day after getting stuck behind the stricken Ford of Khalid Al-Qassimi.
Nonetheless, Gronholm remains less than half a minute off the lead and just ten seconds away from a podium position, much to his delight.
“The road position was quite good for us, but I struggled a little with the notes at the beginning, they were not perfect and it was difficult to find a rhythm,” he said. “The second pass through the afternoon stages was a bit rougher and not so much fun.
Then, on the last stage, we came across Khalid and lost some time getting past him and then there was some vibration through the steering, so we took it steady.
“The plan for tomorrow is to follow the others, I think they will be very quick. But we'll see what we can do.”