Pontus Tidemand makes his fourth WRC 2 start for SKODA Motorsport this weekend when Tour de Corse is back on the WRC calendar. In his three previous rounds, he has finished on the podium each time and after taking the champion title in Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, Pontus has found a good confidence and is hungry for a new challenge.
Endurance is one of the key words as Tour de Corse makes its comeback in the FIA World Rally Championship. The event differs from today’s typical WRC format with just nine stages, which is nearly half the number of stages that are usually run at a WRC rally. But the distance is on that account no less – the weekend in Corsica will test the endurance of both drivers and cars as they take on the demanding stages that are so long that they are close to the limit of FIA’s regulations.
Tour de Corse was a part of the World Rally Championship from 1973 to 2008 and quickly became known as “The Rally of 10 000 Corners” thanks to the characteristically twisty roads on the island. They wind through mountain areas and are not only twisty, but also so narrow that they leave no room for errors, and they are often bordered by rock face on one side and by a steep drop into the sea on the other side. The asphalt is abrasive in many places and put high demands on the tyres, which not just makes the driving more challenging, but also puts the tactical aspect into play.
Like many other drivers in the field, Pontus does his first event in Corsica and although he has become used to tackling new rallies through Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, he is prepared for the tough task that lies ahead of him and his co-driver Emil Axelsson.
“This is a different but exciting event” said Pontus. “Very long stages on these kind of roads with brand new pace notes demand a lot, especially considering that this is my first rally on asphalt this year. But we have had the opportunity to test properly before this weekend and our Fabia R5 keeps getting better and better and that gives me a really positive feeling. We aim for the podium and we want to do Tour de Corse as best as we can, get valuable experience and make sure to reach the finish. That is so important now at the end of the season when the competition gets even more fierce.”
The nine special stages measure a total of 332.57 km and are divided into three stages per day, starting on Friday morning. The long distances take the crews to all the four corners of Corsica with overnight breaks in different cities almost every night. The service park is located in the city of Corte in the middle of the island, while Ajaccio on the west coast hosts both Thursday’s start ceremony and Sunday’s finish.
Pontus is in sixth place overall in the WRC 2 classification, despite that he has only contested selected events during the year, and is currently just 11 points from the top three. But the competition in the class is perhaps harder than ever this year and the competitors are many. So far, 16 cars have entered the WRC 2 in Corsica, and Pontus’ SKODA and EVEN Management teammate Esapekka Lappi is expected to be one of the toughest competitors to beat this time too.