Pontus Tidemand showed his capacity when he scored second place in the Brittish round of the WRC – with no previous experience from the event. In tricky conditions, he speeded up during the weekend and on the very last stage, he decided the outcome by setting a top time.
Wales Rally GB is perhaps best known for its fast gravel stages in typical Brittish autumn weather with rain, snow, mud and fog and since the event took place a little earlier this year, people were talking about a drier event than usual. But when the rally kicked off on Friday, it was the traditional surface – wet and slippery with rally cars covered in mud. Many crews got in trouble, but Pontus Tidemand, who now made his Wales debut, chose to rather be safe than sorry and gave himself time to find the rhythm in the difficult conditions. He could still keep up the pace and placed himself third in the WRC 2 category, where Finnish Esapekka Lappi, who is team-mate with Pontus both in SKODA Motorsport and EVEN Management, took the lead with another Finn, Teemu Suninen, in second.
On Saturday, Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson were warmed up and had found the right way to attack the stages. It did not take long until their high pace showed in the results and after being fastest on half of the day’s stages, they approached a climb to second place. Ahead of the last competitive day, only 12,3 seconds separated the Swedish duo and Suninen.
“We did the recce in dry conditions earlier this week and now it was quite the opposite” said Pontus. “But we had a good feeling and with that came the speed, at the same time as the car, pacenotes and all the details were in place. We could push a bit to enhance our position. It is courage and how much you want to risk that controls the attack on these roads. If you are willing to take big risks, you can save a lot of time, but it can just as easily backfire so the balance is important.”
With six stages to go on Sunday, the plan was given – to chase second place. Pontus caught second after second and put some real pressure on Suninen. When only the last stage remained, the gap was down to three seconds, but to take that much in barely 8 km was a big task. However, not too big for Pontus, who was stunningly quick and beat Suninen by 4.2 seconds. The time was also the sixth fastest overall and Pontus was pleased to find several WRC cars behind him in the stage result.
“No doubt that we can be happy with this weekend” said Pontus. “It was challenging to get into it, but everything fell into place during the two last days and we could finish with a big charge and prove that we can deliver when it really matters. The experience will also be valuable to me next time I’m back here and know what to expect.”