The 2-time world rally champion reunited together with his 2000 and 2002 championship successful co-driver Timo Rautiainen to make a return to aggressive rallying on the all-new occasion in northern Italy, celebrating Group A and WRC automotive period equipment.
The rally, held within the city of Varzi, is the brainchild of former Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo, and marked Gronholm’s first rally outing since Rally Sweden in 2019 when he and Rautiainen campaigned a Toyota Yaris WRC automotive.
Competing in a 2008 WRC specification Subaru Impreza, Gronholm went off the street on the flying end of the rally’s opening stage on Friday evening. It has been reported that the 55-year-old and his co-driver are okay following the incident.
Gronholm has nonetheless been compelled to retire from the rally after the automotive, an analogous mannequin to which he drove on Rally Portugal in 2009, sustained vital injury.
The accident occurred after the pair had clocked what finally proved to be the stage successful time, eight.1s quicker than Frenchman Patrick Magnou, driving a Peugeot 306 Maxi.
Gronholm beforehand rallied in Impreza on Rally Portugal in 2009
Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Former WRC driver Andreas Mikkelsen was third quickest, 14.0s adrift, driving an S2000 specification Skoda Fabia.
Ex-factory Hyundai and Mitsubishi WRC driver Alister McRae ended the stage in fifth general (+23.1s) driving a model of the enduring Subaru Impreza his late older brother Colin drove to win the 1995 world title.
The rally continues with six extra levels on Saturday.