Motorsport Italia team manager Bruno di Pianto has revealed that Finland's double WRC champion Marcus Grönholm is to provide some extra coaching assistance to Michal Kosciuszko to get him fully up to speed for the unique challenges of next week's Rally Sweden event.
"Double World Champion Marcus Grönholm is joining us to tutor Michal on the snow," di Pianto revealed in his latest guest column. "Marcus will help Michal with the particular style of driving needed for Sweden based on how much a driver can use or 'lean on' the snow banks."
Rally Sweden, based around Karlstad and Service Park in Hagfors, is one of the most gruelling tests on the WRC calendar and requires a unique, hard-to-acquire skill set to do well on.
Cars are pushed to their absolute limits in temperatures plummeting to between 10 and 20 degrees below zero, and on surfaces requiring the one and only appearance of the season of the special studded extreme snow tyres.
Kosciuszko and his co-driver Maciek Szczepaniak will benefit from all the expert advice they can get - and Grönholm is most assuredly the man for the job having won the event no fewer than five times between 2000 and 2007, driving first with Peugeot and later with Ford.
Grönholm's last appearance in the WRC as a competitor was in Rally Sweden in 2010. He was forced to withdraw from the second half of last year's Global Rallycross season after suffering a serious crash during practice for the X-Games RallyCross event in July. He was hospitalised after briefly losing consciousness preparing for the Los Angeles event, but has since made a full recovery.
"Marcus is a legend in the world of rallying and one of the most inspiring drivers of all time," said di Pianto. "He proved himself in the WRC in every condition and has a huge amount of experience to call on."
Grönholm will guide the MINI John Cooper Works WRC driver through a 100km run when the Lotos Team WRC-run team arrives in Hagfors ahead of this week's event.
"He'll also take our MINI John Cooper Works WRC out for a spin and test her limits, which'll allow us to compare his and Michal's data on the 6km test stage," added di Pianto. "Then [he'll] work on speed-saving details like technical corner entry, mid-corner speed and corner exit."
"I've rarely met a driver as keen to learn and be the best he can be as Michal, so I'm sure that he and the team will benefit a lot from Marcus' master class," said di Pianto. "Then before we pack up for the day, Michal will get the chance to drive a few runs in the dark, which'll be vital experience.
Kosciuszko got off to a good start to the year last month at Monte Carlo, the Polish driver finishing in the top ten in his first outing for the MINI John Cooper Works WRC squad. The team is currently up in fifth place in the WRC manufacturers' championship standings.