The first day of Rally de Portugal is now accomplished and after the five first stages, Pontus Tidemand has a grasp of the lead in Junior World Rally Championship’s first rally of the season. With one more competitive day to go and victory as the goal, there are no other plans for Pontus than continuing pushing.
The weather conditions were good when Rally de Portugal began on Friday morning. The first stage of the day was a little over 20 km and Pontus ad co-driver Ola Fløene had a good start. He was the fastest man on most of the split times, but ran into some trouble towards the end of the stage. Despite that, he was second fastest.
On the second stage, everything went according to plan without unforeseen happenings. Pontus was fastest and took the lead overall, 10.9 seconds ahead of Spanish José Suarez.
“We caught two cars on the first stage and had some problems with dust on the road, but we made up for it when we were fastest on the second stage, which we’re happy about”, says Pontus, who can participate in the championship thanks to support from EVEN Management and Tommy Andersson, owner of Tätab.
The third special stage of the day caused problems for almost all JWRC crews as one of the earlier starting cars had crashed and was blocking the road. For Pontus, who started as second car in the JWRC class, this meant that he lost more than five minutes. But the held up didn’t make any difference for Pontus, who stayed in the lead even after the organisers had adjusted the times. After a stage win on SS4, Pontus had a 26.4 second lead going into the last stage of the day.
Friday ended with a spectator stage in Lisbon, where Pontus managed to set another fastest time. With that he increased his lead to 27.0 seconds over second place holder Suarez.
“Everything has worked well today and I’ve both had the right feeling and had fun in the car. Now we’re looking forward to tomorrow when we’ll do everything we can to maintain the lead. Nothing is settled, it is and will be a fight with José Suarez, who has improved his gravel driving, and Marius Aasen, who has driven very good today”, finishes Pontus.
Tomorrow, Saturday, another six stages awaits and start of the first stage is set to 10.09 local time (11.09 CET).
Leaderboard after the first day of Rally de Portugal:
1. Pontus Tidemand
2. José Suarez, +27.0
3. Marius Aasen, +32.8
4. Murat Bostanci, +2:02.2
5. Martin Koci, +2:10.7
6. Anderas Amberg, +2:22.5
7. Michael Burri, +2:54.1
8. Yeray Lemes, +3:08.9
9. Niko-Pekka Nieminen, +4:16.3