With top results in both WRC events that Pontus Tidemand has participated in so far this year, he is more than ready to jump back into the FIA World Rally Championship. It is time to put the pedal to the metal, because Rally Poland – one of the fastest rallies in the world – kicks off on Thursday.
Pontus’ second year as a works driver for SKODA Motorsport has had a flying start. After the season premiere on home soil at Rally Sweden, where Pontus finished second in the WRC 2 category, he took an impressive victory at Rally Portugal and is now in fourth place in the overall classification – despite the fact that he has only participated in two out of six events so far with his Fabia R5.
“The competition in this year’s WRC 2 is incredibly tough, maybe tougher than ever before” said Pontus. “But considering that we have done just two events, we are still very much in the game and have all the chances to advance in the standings. The win in Portugal boosted our confidence and we are extremely motivated to continue this.”
Since the victory in Portugal in May, Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson have squeezed in another two rallies in their hectic schedules. First up was Rally Ceský Krumlov, an event in the Czech championship that offered rough conditions and where they finished second and got valuable asphalt practice for upcoming WRC events. Next in line was Rally Zemaitija in Lithuania, which was a perfect warm-up for Poland with its fast roads and Pontus and Jonas managed to take the win.
“We have prepared as well as we possibly can for this weekend” said Pontus. “The event in Lithuania was important for us since we got a chance to find pace and rhythm so close to the next WRC rally. Besides the rallies, we have also had a couple of great tests so we have had quite some time behind the wheel, which is always a positive thing.”
Rally Poland is one of the fastest rallies on the WRC calendar and the speeds approach those of Rally Finland. The gravel roads are mostly soft and several road sections have tall grass lines, which makes it more difficult going into corners and the grass tends to hide rocks as well.
“Rally Poland is such an awesome event and you need to give it your all from start. You also need to trust your pacenotes completely and you can not cut corners with limited visibility. When it comes to the championship, it is important for us to get points so we aim for a result as good as possible, but at the same time we are prepared for tough competition” said Pontus, referring to quick drivers like his SKODA Motorsport and EVEN Management colleague Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Sunninen, who both are Finns and familiar with fast roads, and championship leader Elfyn Evans from Great Britain.
Hosting city for the event is Mikolajki, located in the Masurian lake district in northeastern Poland. Starting Thursday evening, a total of 21 special stages, measuring over 300 km, awaits the competing crews during the weekend before reaching the finish on Sunday.