Pontus Tidemand got a dream start in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship a month ago when he was the superior winner at his very first round of the championship. Now the adventure for ŠKODA Motorsport continues on the other side of the Earth – International Rally New Caledonia awaits Pontus and co-driver Emil Axelsson this weekend.
“It is always great to get a good start to the season” said Pontus. “We aim to help ŠKODA take home the championship title in the APRC and to score points early makes it easier for the rest of the series. This year consists of many new experiences since every event is completely new for me and Rally New Caledonia is no exception. Our biggest goal this weekend is to make it all the way to the finish line and of course to do it as best as we can with a result as good as possible. I look forward to another challenge!”
New Caledonia is a group of French islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, about 1200 km east of Australia and 1500 km northwest of New Zealand. The climate is tropical and unlike many other Pacific islands that are of volcanic origin, New Caledonia is a fragment of the ancient super-continent Gondwana, and have therefore remained a unique vegetation. Rally New Caledonia is located to the west side of the main island, Grande Terre, which is in the rain shadow of the central mountain range and has many dry areas and forests.
Friday’s start ceremony and the first two stages, a super special run twice, takes place near the capital Noumea in the southern part of the main island. On Saturday and Sunday, the event moves a bit up north and the remaining stages are determined in the area between Poya and Farino with the service park in Bourail. In total, 16 special stages of 245 km will be mastered between Friday and the finish on Sunday afternoon. The time difference is CET +9 hours.
Also this time Pontus will be behind the wheel of a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, run by Team MRF, with team mates Gaurav Gill, who was APRC champion in 2013, and Jean-Louis Leyraud in identical cars. Most of the 21 entered crews are French and many of them have extensive experience from both the APRC and other championships in the Pacific area. In addition to Pontus and Indian Gill, former WRC regular Subhan Aksa from Indonesia can be found among others on the list of international entries and a fierce battle for the top positions is expected.