Pontus Tidemand and co-driver Ola Fløene came to Greece aiming for the podium in one of the roughest rallies of the year. After three days, one puncture, eight stage wins and 230 km special stages in their Ford Fiesta R2, they finished in second place in the JWRC category of Acropolis Rally and are still in the lead of the championship.
Acropolis Rally started on Friday evening with the first two stages of the rally. The first one was also the longest stage of the rally with it’s 47,70 km. The rally is known for being one of the toughest rallies in the world championship and already on the first evening it stood up to it’s reputation as several crews got in trouble. Pontus and Ola picked up a puncture on the opening stage and tried to continue driving, but eventually had to stop to change the tyre. With that they lost nearly three minutes. The second stage was driven in the darkness and Pontus set a third fastest time and advanced to third place with two and a half minute to the top.
“It’s a bummer to start the rally like this but things like this happen. We know that Acropolis Rally is a very difficult rally, but that also means that anything can happen over the next two days. Besides the puncture, things have gone well in the car. We’ll focus on driving clever tomorrow”, explained Pontus, who participates in this year’s Junior WRC with support from EVEN Management and Tätab.
Saturday on the other hand, got a perfect start. On the first stage of the morning, Pontus got his first stage win of the weekend and managed to keep the rythm for the rest of the day and be quickest on the remaining three stages as well. That moved him up to second place and the fast times also made him catch up on Spanish rally leader José Suarez with more than half a minute.
“It’s gone very well today and I’m really happy for the stage win points. It’s hard to put pressure on Suarez when he is two minutes ahead of me, but you never know what tomorrow holds. At the moment, the most important thing is to drive wisely and get the car all the way to the finish and we’ll try to keep the second place”, said Pontus after finishing Saturday’s last stage.
Sunday took off exactly where Saturday ended. Pontus was on top of his game from the first stage of the day until the last and set the fastest time on all stages, which ultimately meant that he was fastest on eight of the ten stages and impressed greatly on the tough roads. But the time difference to Suarez was too big despite getting smaller for every stage, and Pontus ended up on second place, a little over a minute behind Suarez.
“We did the best we could in this situation that we got caught in after the puncture and we can’t be anything other than pleased with all the stage wins and with staying in the lead of the championship”, says Pontus. “It’s hard when you can’t push like you want to and to find the right balance, but the feeling has still been good. Now we look forward to the next rally in Finland in August!”
With the points from the stage wins, Pontus and the winner Jose Suarez both got 26 points on this event. Thanks to that, Pontus stays in the lead of Junior WRC after the two first rallies.
Final FIA Junior WRC classification – Acropolis Rally 2013
1. J. Suarez (ESP) / C. Carrera (ESP) 4:33:17.8
2. P. Tidemand (SWE) / O. Floene (NOR) +1:04.2
3. S. Pärn (EST) / K. Järveoja (EST) +8:37.4
4. M. Burri (SUI) / G. Moreau (FRA) +16:03.6
5. N. Nieminen (FIN) / M. Korhonen (FIN) +18:33.4
6. M. Koci (SVK) / P. Starý (CZE) +20:03.9
FIA Junior WRC standings after round two of six
1. P. Tidemand (SWE) 56
2. J. Suarez (ESP) 46
3. S.Pärn (EST) 19
4. Y.Lemes (ESP) 18
5. M. Koci (SVK) 18
6. N.Nieminen (FIN) 16
7. A.Amberg (FIN) 12
8. O.Burri (CHE) 12
9. M.Aasen (NOR) 9
Photo 1: McKlein
Photo 2: André Lavadinho