Local hero Pontus Tidemand exceeded all expectations when he won the WRC 2 class at Rally Sweden in grand style. On a surface of snow and ice, he took command already on the first day and had a firm grip of the lead until he crossed the finish line – with the runner up almost a minute behind.
“Yes we did it! What an overwhelming feeling to win our home event with our team, partners, supporters, family and friends here. I’m so grateful and can’t think of a better place to take the first win of the season. We’ve had bad luck at Rally Sweden the past years, there has always been something that has made us miss out on the top position when we wanted it the most so it feels really satisfying to break that trend. It’s like a double victory” said a pleased and relieved Pontus Tidemand after reaching the finish in his SKODA Fabia R5.
26-year-old Pontus Tidemand, from Charlottenberg, not far from the Rally Sweden area, arrived to the rally base in Torsby with his sights set on victory. He and his co-driver Jonas Andersson had prepared thoroughly and left nothing to chance. They knew they had the odds on their side – but in a sport with small margin, where anything can happen, a top performance at the right time is required to succeed.
After a somewhat careful start on Thursday evening’s Super Special and Friday morning’s first stage, Pontus put in a higher gear and climbed into the lead already before the midpoint service. He continued to increase his pace on the afternoon and had the rest of the field 45 seconds behind him before the day had come to an end. That made this his best opening day of Rally Sweden since 2013.
“We have known that we can deliver that extra push under pressure” said Pontus. “We have started many rallies carefully just to chase really hard on the last days. Perhaps it is one of our strengths that we often succeed, but this time we changed tactics. We worked ourselves into the rhythm and started pushing earlier in the competition.”
On Saturday, Pontus was in his real element, made a controlled attack and proved himself nearly untouchable for his competitors. The iconic stages, topped by Vargåsen and Colin’s Crest, fit him like a glove and he took another 30 seconds to add to his lead.
To stay calm and collected and finish the job was the task for Sunday’s last three stages. With a lead of one minute and 16 seconds, it meant that Pontus drove safely and clean and kept the control until the last meter. He took ten stage wins this weekend and finished 51,8 seconds ahead of Teemu Suninen from Finland in second place and Pontus’ Norwegian EVEN Management teammate Ole Christian Veiby in third. In the overall classification, Pontus were ninth.
“This weekend means a lot to me. First, nothing compares to racing in front of the Swedish rally fans who are absolutely fantastic, and second, everything has worked perfectly with the car, the pacenotes and the team. I also think of it as a proof of the progress I have made in the past year. Both me and Jonas and SKODA Motorsport aim for the overall WRC 2 win and this gave us an amazing start to the championship” said Pontus.
Seven events are included in the WRC 2 championship and this year three of them are mandatory: Portugal, Germany and Wales. The other events are nominated by the team and the six best results counts at the end of the season.