Pontus Tidemand’s main task for the season premiere and his debut in the new car with a new team at Rallye Monte-Carlo was to complete the event and cash in on valuable experience. Calm and collected, he did just that, and after the 16 special stages in challenging conditions, he finished with a great feeling and is ready to raise the stakes in time for Rally Sweden.
Pontus Tidemand came to Rallye Monte-Carlo determind to get important practice in the Ford Fiesta WRC that he drives for M-Sport at the two first WRC rallies of the season. This was not his debut in the WRC category, he drove an M-Sport Fiesta at Rally Sweden in 2013 and 2014, but this was his premiere with the new generation WRC car. The step from WRC 2 to WRC is quite big and Pontus and his co-driver Ola Fløene wanted to take care of their chance in the best possible way.
“We said from the beginning that we are going to do this the right way. To allow ourselves to get to know the car, build up the experience and not get stressed by other drivers going quicker than us. We came here without expectations, our only target was to make it through the rally and get the practice we need to be able to push at Rally Sweden” said Pontus, who followed that strategy all weekend.
After a solid start on Thursday evening’s two long opening stages in the dark, Pontus continued to collect valuable kilometers on Friday and felt more and more at home in the car. Just as he began to come closer to the top times, he hit a rock in a corner and broke a wishbone. He and Ola was forced to retire for the day and missed out on two stages.
With new energy on Saturday, they had a really nice start in tricky conditions but caught a slow puncture on the first stage of the morning. As they only had one spare tyre, they had to be careful for the rest of the morning, but to drive wisely was important also during the afternoon loop.
“We had to just get through the stages. Our team said the same and we stuck with that, to safely bring the car to the finish in the evening as manufacturers’ points was at stake too. There was no more chance to re-start, so a mistake could have meant the end of the rally” explained Pontus, who was the only M-Sport driver who stayed on the road all weekend.
The crews started the final day in Monaco and with mostly dry tarmac out on the stages, Pontus got his first experience from that surface with his Ford Fiesta. He made it safely over the finish line and was pleased that he did his job.
“This event has given us a lot for the future and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be here. We have had a great progress during these days with everything from the feeling with the car to how we need to work with the notes at high speed. Lots of new things at the same time, I don’t think I have had a learning progress like this in many years, but I love it. I have said it many times this weekend, but the car really is fantastic, and I would have loved to push more where I felt like I could have, but that was a risk too big this time. Rally Sweden is only a few weeks away and I’m so excited to give it all I’ve got at my home event. I definitely want to be in the game, fight for real and be competitive. That is what we aim for now and we will analyze every detail to see what we can do to optimize our performance” said Pontus.
Rally Sweden takes place between the 14th and 17th February with Pontus’ home county as its main playground.