SKODA Motorsport’s rally ace Pontus Tidemand made his debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo with the goal to gain experience from one of the most difficult events on the WRC calendar. He made it through the demanding stages, finished fourth and got the routine he needs for the future.
After a few seasons as a regular in the WRC circus, Pontus Tidemand has participated at almost every European events. But Rallye Monte-Carlo was a rally where he was still waiting for his first outing. This weekend it was time to take on this legendary event that puts any given elite driver to the test. Since this rally is not a part of Pontus’ WRC 2 programme for the year, where seven events are nominated, it was all about experience and learning as Pontus once again took place behind the wheel of his SKODA Fabia R5.
“To get to drive the Monte Carlo rally felt special since it’s such a well known event with very unique conditions” said Pontus. “It’s one of those rallies you really want to succeed at one day and to be able to do that, you need experience.”
Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson began their rally strongly and after Thursday evening’s driving in the dark and Friday’s long stages, they had a grip of the second place in the R5 category. They continued solidly in the rally’s tough conditions also on Saturday, but their progress was held back by two punctures that cost them more than two minutes. Towards the end of the day, they fought back with a stage win and took fourth place.
During the final day, the crews had four stages to look forward to, including two passes on the classic Col de Turini stage, but due to safety reasons, only three stages could be run. With the goal to take in as much as possible of the rally, Pontus and Jonas took their chance to work on their pacenotes for upcoming years at the same time as they stayed on the safe side to risk free reach the finish. They kept their fourth place and were eleventh overall. The R5 and WRC 2 class was won by Pontus’ EVEN Management and this weekend also SKODA teammate Andreas Mikkelsen.
“I’m satisfied with my ‘Monte’ premiere” said Pontus. “It has been challenging and tough, just like it should be, and I’ve learned a lot about changing weather, grip and tyre choice. Before the last stage, it started snowing and we didn’t have the optimal tyres so we couldn’t fight for third place, but we still reached the finish. And that was the purpose of participating here so the result becomes less important now that we’re not competing for championship points even if you always aim for the podium.”
With the characteristic road surface consisting of a treacherous mix of snow, ice and dry tarmac, the ice crews play an important part. In Monte Carlo, Pontus had help from the WRC experienced P-G Andersson and crosscart driver Per Björnson and paid tribute to them for their efforts.
“They’ve done an amazing job and deserve cred for that since this rally would be impossible to get through without icenotes. It has also been a positive thing that Jonas has done this event so many times before and he reads the pacenotes flawlessly. Now we’ve kickstarted the season and we really look forward to our home event, Rally Sweden, in a couple of weeks and to start the fight for the WRC 2 title” said Pontus.
Rally Sweden takes place between the 9th and 12th February with its new base in Torsby in the northern region of Värmland county.