After four straight WRC 2 victories, Pontus Tidemand scored another podium at Rally Poland – this time a second place. He thereby strengthens his lead in the championship and is in a great position ahead of the remaining events.
Rally Poland, one of the world’s fastest rallies, has been run in extremely hot weather the last years with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius and very dry roads. That was not the case this year. When the event got underway for real on Friday after a short arena stage on Thursday evening, it was raining heavily and the stages quickly became muddy and slippery with standing water in the lines.
Pontus Tidemand were in the WRC 2 lead after the rally’s first stage, but in the difficult conditions he tried to find the balance between speed and safety to not jeopardize a good result. Ole Christian Veiby, Pontus’ Norwegian team-mate in both EVEN Management and SKODA, took over the lead and the two of them started an exciting battle where they were only separated by seconds.
The fight continued on Saturday and Veiby held on to his advantage while Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson were right behind at the same time as they avoided risks. Just in time for the afternoon loop, they got a green light from the team to step up their game and try to catch the young Norwegian. They increased their pace, took a couple of stage wins but did not get much further until a puncture ruined their plan. They lost nearly a minute and all they could do was to come up with a new strategy and look after their second place and get their SKODA Fabia R5 to the finish.
“The pace was really high” said Pontus. “We went flat out where it was possible, but were not pushing 100% since we managed to come through the stages without moments. When you are on the limit, those mistakes are impossible to avoid. The puncture was unfortunate of course, especially as we had a great feeling before it happened. But we did our job and focused on getting the valuable points we were here to collect.”
Everything went smoothly on Sunday and Pontus could safely secure second place. He also managed to narrow down the gap to Veiby by being fastest on all stages but one and takes ten stage wins with him in addition to his podium.
“A second place is good for the championship and we have had a positive rally. The car has been perfect thanks to the SKODA team and Jonas is always doing an amazing job with the pacenotes. In our position, the championship points are important but I’m also seeing the bigger picture. Driving on these rough roads has given us excellent practice for upcoming years and I’m happy for the experience. I’m very impressed by Ole Christian’s performance this weekend. I knew he was quick, but he took it to another level” said the humble Swede.
The WRC 2 championship includes seven nominated events, of which six counts at the end of the season, and three are mandatory. This was Pontus’ fifth round and that means he has two events left in the series. Next up is Rallye Deutschland on 17-20 August.