After a clean sweep of wins in the 2012 Global Rallycross Championship, Marcus Gronholm heads to the series' blue riband event, the X Games with a clear mission - to maintain his championship lead, to add an X Games medal to his 2012 accomplishments and to enjoy the prospect of locking horns with his long-standing WRC rival, Sebastien Loeb, who joins X Games for a guest appearance.
“X Games is a big enough event as it is, but with Seb coming along too to add to the competition from Tanner, Brian and all the other GRC regulars, I think it is really going to be something special this year,” said the Finn.
The X Games is an action sports compendium event, convened and owned by ESPN, with the Summer Games encompassing MotoX, skateboarding, BMX and Rallycross, with over 200 athletes competing for coveted X Games medals. X Games had its origins in winter events in 1997, and went bi-annual in order to encompass disciplines as diverse as street luge to snowboarding and from barefoot water-ski-ing to snowmobile racing.
Global Rallycross connected with the urban, metropolitan and youth-orientated approach of X Games in 2008. The fusing of the two series has been a catalyst for many action athletes migrating from other X Games disciplines such as MotoX and skateboarding into Rallycross. In 2013, X Games is making a significant statement of global intent by adding three new events to Los Angeles, Aspen and Tignes to form a six-event international calendar for 2013. The new host cities for next year will include Barcelona, Munich and Foz do Igacu.
X Games Rallycross follows a similar format to the established protocols of the GRC series, taking place on part sealed, part loose surfaces and incorporating a jump and underpass in a short-circuit intersection to create a once-per-heat joker lap. The X Games GRC circuit runs adjacent to the Staples Centre at the heart of downtown LA.
Gronholm has some prior experience of the LA GRC course, having competed and medalled at the X Games last year; however, he believes that GRC has moved on a significant step in the past twelve months.
“It was pretty tough in LA last year, you know. I didn't have it all my own way and I medalled, but I didn't win. So coming here leading the series, I want to hold my position at the top of the points table, of course, and yes, take a X Games gold back home if I can, for sure,” he continued. “But GRC itself has really cranked up this year, with more manufacturers involved, more drivers, the events so far connected with NASCAR and IndyCar have all felt that much bigger. And of course, if all the homegrown competition wasn't enough, some guy called Sebastien Loeb is coming along for a go too!”
Warming to the stiff competition, the Best Buy Mobile driver added: “Yeah, you know its great that Seb will be in LA. We've had some pretty tight head-to-heads over the years and this will be no different. I've had two GRC wins in a row, and he's coming here fresh from a good win in New Zealand. Tanner has just had an ERC win in Trondheim, just ahead of Liam Doran, so throw all this lot in the pot and plenty more and its going to be extremely exciting in LA, no doubt.”
The schedule for the Rallycross element of X Games commences on Thursday June 28 with jumps practice at 1600hrs local, with seeding taking place on the evening of Saturday June 30 and the final at 1530hrs local on Sunday July 1.