Former WRC champion Marcus Gronholm is to contest the opening round of the Global Rallycross Championship at Irwindale Speedway near Los Angeles later this month.

The Finn will driver a 600-hp Ford Fiesta run by the Olsbergs MSE team with backing from Best Buy and will go up against three-time X Games Rally gold medalist Tanner Foust in his Ford Fiesta, Rhys Millen and five-time British rally champion Marcus Dodd in Hyundai Veloster rallycross cars, and Subaru Rally Team USA's Dave Mirra in a Subaru WRX STI - amongst others.

"Rallycross is good fun, with a lot of cars running at the same time," Gronholm said. "It's quite different from rally but it's excellent to come to the USA and it feels nice to be involved again with the team."

Drivers in the Global RallyCross Championship are vying for a chance to win the first-ever series title - and a chance to earn an invitation to X Games 17 Rally competitions held in downtown Los Angeles this July.

Racing this month will take place on an inventive dirt and tarmac track configuration on the speedway oval. The highlight of the course is a huge gap jump that will see competition cars fly 70-feet through the air. This is the first time a gap jump has ever been included in rallycross competition outside the X Games environment.