Pontus Tidemand scored another top result as he finished second at Rally Finland – the WRC event with the notoriously high pace. This is the second event in a row where ŠKODA Motorsport dominates WRC 2 and Pontus is satisfied with coming home with his third WRC 2 trophy after just as many events with the Fabia R5.
“Fantastic for ŠKODA to secure one-two on the podium again” said a happy Pontus after the last stage of the rally. “The team has done and is still doing an outstanding job with the car and we really prove the potential of both the car and the team itself. We will without a doubt become even stronger during the rest of the season!”
After Thursday evening’s opening street stage in Jyväskylä, Pontus and his co-driver Emil Axelsson was in sixth place but just two seconds off the lead. Already on Friday’s first stage, they climbed to second place thanks to a strong start when the real challenge of the weekend began. The program for the day, which was the longest of the event, offered nine stages totaling 157 km – without any service break during the day. A minor incident in the morning, where Pontus came a bit too wide in a corner and went slightly into a ditch, cost some time and became a reminder of the importance of avoiding risks in order to reach the finish at the end of the day. With a somewhat damaged car and more than half the day left, Pontus made sure to get a flawless afternoon and also managed to catch enough time to take back second place.
At the start on Saturday morning, Pontus had a minute to leading teammate Esapekka Lappi and thanks to the high pace of the two ŠKODAs , the gap to Stéphane Lefebvre in third also increased to over a minute and a half during the day. Although the relatively large time gaps reduced the level of excitement in the top fight, they did not make the task any easier. To show competitive speed at the same time as you look after your position without taking unnecessary risks is a challenge even for the best drivers. Pontus targeted the big picture and even though he set impressively quick times and took several stage wins, his focus was primarily to reach the finish line on Sunday with another great result secured.
By keeping his head cool, everything went according to plan also on the two last stages of the rally’s final day. Pontus landed his third podium finish at Rally Finland – the previous two were in the Junior WRC 2012 and 2013 with a significantly less powerful car.
“These roads have been incredibly fun to drive and there is really no limit of exactly how fast you can go, it is all a matter of bravery” explained Pontus with a laugh. “We had a tight fight for stage wins with Esapekka yesterday and it was great to see how close our times were, even though neither one of us gave it 100 percent. But I am happy with mine and Emil’s performance this weekend, especially as this was my first Rally Finland with a car as fast as this one. A completely different feeling!”
In just a week, Pontus and Emil travels to Malaysia to begin their preparations for the next round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. The event is called Malaysian Rally and takes place between 14 and 16 August.
Rally Finland WRC 2 top 5
1. Esapekka Lappi (FIN) 2:40:15.0
2. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) +1:41.0
3. Stéphane Lefebvre (FRA) +3:31.5
4. Yuiry Protasov (UKR) +4:58.3
5. Scott Pedder (AUS) +6:45.6