For the second weekend in a row, Pontus Tidemand took a step up on the podium when he finished second at Rallye Český Krumlov. This time it was not a WRC event, but a rally in the Czech championship, an event that Pontus mainly did to get practice on tarmac. And he did get practice – in extreme conditions.
With full commitment to the WRC 2 class in the FIA World Rally Championship, preparation and practice are among the key factors to succeed and this weekend, SKODA driver Pontus Tidemand made his second guest appearance in the Czech championship to collect valuable kilometers on tarmac.
The storm that had parked over the Czech Republic just in time for the rally, made the challenge bigger than expected with torrential rain, hail and fog. The mud that got dragged out on the roads made them very slippery and the competitors had to maintain their focus to not get a premature ending to their weekend. Despite that, Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson were off to a great start on Friday and took the second place behind their teammate Jan Kopecký, who is leading the Czech championship. The last stages of the day were run in darkness, something that even without the rain is quite a task.
The bad weather continued on Saturday, although with reduced strength, and a stage that was set to run twice, had to be cancelled due to safety reasons. Pontus kept up the speed, managed to be quickest on three of the stages in addition to his stage win from Friday and could eventually finish second overall.
“This was probably the toughest rally I have done on tarmac. This kind of tarmac gets so slippery that it feels like driving on ice and the roads do not have a chance to dry up in between the heavy showers. On some stages, the fog was so thick that it was like hitting a wall” explained Pontus, who this season, just like last season, is behind the wheel of a SKODA Fabia R5.
In the Czech Republic you also have more tyre choices and you can, for example, choose to cut them to adjust to the conditions. More options makes the decision more difficult, but with the rest of the season in mind, Pontus and Jonas chose to stick with tyres as close to what is allowed in the WRC 2 category as possible.
“We definitely got great practice in very difficult conditions and I hope that will be an advantage for us in the upcoming events” said Pontus. “This was our first time in this rally and we know that we can not compare ourselves to Kopecký, who has much experience from here. But it feels good to know that we still can keep up with him and also beat him on some of the stages.”
As previously mentioned, Pontus finished Rallye Český Krumlov in second place, 39 seconds behind Kopecký and with much bigger gaps to the other participants.