There was no hesitation in WRC 2 champion Pontus Tidemand’s performance at Wales Rally GB. With full control on the slippery and muddy roads in Wales, he took a dominant victory – the fifth WRC 2 win this year – and showed the skills that has made him this year’s champion.
“Our goal was to end the season in a strong way and show why we took the WRC 2 title this year. We succeeded and I could not be more pleased, both for ourselves and for the SKODA Motorsport team, who has done an incredible job all year to give us the best tools to perform on top” said a happy Pontus after the finish on Sunday.
SKODA and EVEN Management’s Swedish duo Pontus Tidemand and co-driver Jonas Andersson got a flying start to their last WRC event for the season. After taking the lead already on the opening stage on Thursday evening, they brought the pace and a great feeling with them to the Welsh forests the following days.
A strong effort in the mud on Friday extended the lead to over 40 seconds before Pontus recharged to go out even stronger the next day. Stage win after stage win made the lead bigger and bigger and on Saturday’s two last stages, he was phenomenal in extremely difficult conditions with darkness, fog, rain and wind. Just on these two stages, he nearly doubled his advantage and on the first of these two stages, he was 36 seconds faster than the runner-up and also set an impressive tenth time overall.
Pontus started the final day with a lead of more than a minute and a half and even though he did not push to take stage wins, his advantage continued to grow. Eventually he won the event by one minute and 54 seconds and considering the competition – perhaps the toughest challenge of the year with all WRC 2 drivers competing – a victory with a margin that big is an achievement in itself and show Pontus’ enormous potential.
“A perfect weekend” said Pontus. “The car has been flawless, we have had a good feeling all the way and despite the tricky conditions, it has felt natural to push a bit and show what we can do. We take this with us as a very positive confirmation of the progress we have made.”
This is Pontus’ third year as a works driver for SKODA Motorsport and after winning the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 2015 and doing selected WRC 2 rounds in 2016, he aimed for the WRC 2 title in 2017. He started the season at Rally Sweden in February and took a first victory on home turf. Win number two came at Rally Mexico a month later and after the top result at Rally Argentina in April, he had three victories. The fourth win came at Rally Portugal in May and with a second place at Rally Poland in June, his dominance in the championship was a fact. Thanks to another podium at Rallye Deutschland, he could secure the champion title already in August – with one event to go in the series. In addition to the WRC 2 rallies, Pontus has also done selected rounds in the Czech and Swedish championships for practice, and finished on the podium every time.
“The season has been a real success and that everyone involved has worked so hard is the key” said Pontus. “We have prepared thoroughly for every rally and nothing has been left by chance, not with the car, pacenotes or any details around us. Jonas has done a superb job, he is one of the most experienced co-drivers in the world and our teamwork has been great ever since he took over the co-driver’s seat last year. I am really excited to see what the future has to offer.”