BP Ford team leader Marcus Gronholm - and his co-driver Timo Rautiainen, will both retire from the FIA World Rally Championship at the end of the 2007 season.

The Finn, who currently leads the race for the 2007 drivers' title - 10 points up on arch rival, Sebastien Loeb, revealed that while the decision was difficult, he reckons that now is the correct time to go as he wants to hang up his helmet while still at the top level of the sport.

"This has been an incredibly hard decision for me to make," explained the two-time world champion. "Rallying has been my life for so many years and when the Monte Carlo Rally comes round in January to start next year's championship, it will feel strange not to be there.

"But the time is right for me to finish now. I wanted to stop while I still had the speed to win rallies. I didn't want to leave the decision too late so that I wasn't capable of winning any longer.

"This will allow me to spend more time with my wife and three children. They have fully supported me all the way through my career and I would like to thank them for that. I could not have achieved what I have without their encouragement.

"Now this decision is made, I want to concentrate on the remaining five rounds of the season. We lead both the drivers' and manufacturers' championships and I would like nothing more than to end my career with another title," he added.

For the record, Gronholm and Rautiainen are one of the sport's most successful pairings ever and are second in the list of all-time rally wins with 30 - three less than Loeb.