Pontus Tidemand was on top performance when he showed his growing asphalt skills in this past weekend’s Rallye Deutschland. With strong stage times and fast, clever and tactical driving during the three competitive days, he finished in eighth place – overall.
Rallye Deutschland is one of the most demanding WRC events of the fall with varying stages that give the drivers a real challenge in quickly adapting to the current conditions. Experience is one of the most important factors in being successful here, both in short and long-term. SKODA driver Pontus Tidemand’s focus is entirely on the WRC 2 series this year, which means seven nominated events where six results will be counted in the end of the season. Rally Deutschland is not one of these nominated events, but thanks to the cooperation between SKODA Motorsport and EVEN Management, Pontus still got a chance to drive, without being included in the WRC 2 class, to get more experience from the German roads and keep up the competitive speed.
And there was nothing wrong with their pace – already on Thursday’s shakedown, Pontus, who is joined by Jonas Andersson in the co-driver’s seat, was fastest in his category and held on to that feeling until Friday when the first five stages were completed. On winding roads through vineyards, he used his technical skills and at the end of the day, we was in tenth place overall with only two similar cars ahead of him.
“Now that we did not drive in the championship, we started further back in the field and with that came other challenges, like lots of gravel on the road from the two-wheel-drive cars in front of us. But it is valuable training to get to handle different situations” said Pontus, who did his first Rallye Deutschland in a SKODA Fabia R5.
Saturday consisted of country roads and stages on the daunting military area Panzerplatte. Pontus was the fastest R5 car during the morning loop and mixed in with the WRC cars as he set seventh best times on two of the stages. A heavy rain shower made the road conditions difficult on the afternoon, but their time loss was still not that big and the Swedish duo found themselves in eighth place after the 14th stage of the rally.
Pontus proved his pace also on the final day of the rally and was able to tie together a fantastic weekend in great style by being the quickest R5 on the last stage. He secured his eighth place in the overall results and if he had been registered for WRC 2 this time, he would have finished second.
“It is a great feeling to know that we have the pace to actually measure against asphalt specialists at an event like this” said Pontus. “I do not look at it as if we theoretically could have picked up important points here, but as we got an extra rally that we have made the most of. Experience wise, this has been very good for us and we have gotten to know the stages a bit better at the same time as we have had the opportunity to try things, like different tyre choices, and prepared for the next events. Now we are looking forward to get back in the game.”
Pontus and Jonas were set to travel to China in September for the next WRC rally, but due to a violent storm that completely ruined the roads, the organizers have been forced to cancel the event. Now the team has to rethink their schedule and come up with a new plan for the rest of the season. Left on the WRC calendar are Corsica, Spain, Wales and Australia.