Pontus Tidemand was one of the favourites for the WRC 2 victory in this year’s Rallye de France-Alsace and after a great start, there was no doubt that he was planning on being in the top battle. Unfortunately the situation changed abruptly after an off on Friday, but despite that, Pontus showed his strength when he restarted the following day, took stage wins and finished in fourth place.
Pontus began the French WRC event in the best way possible. His got his first stage win already on the second stage on Friday morning and after that he also took the lead. The competition was fierce from the start, but Pontus remained solidly in top three during the next stages.
But on the fifth and longest stage of the rally, the fun came to an end. Pontus and co-driver Patrik Barth, who made his WRC debut this weekend, were quickest on all the split times and seemed to be on their way towards the lead again – then came a massive hit.
“We came into a fast left hand corner and the foot of a road work sign was in the middle of the driving line” explains Pontus. “We had no chance to avoid it, so we hit it and that lifted the front of the car. That made us go straight off the road and we got stuck laying in a deep ditch. A real disappointment, especially since things were going well and it felt better and better for every kilometer.”
The accident forced them to retire for the day, but luckily “just” a steering arm broke in the hit and they could restart on Saturday. With a time penalty of five minutes for every missed stage, Pontus and Patrik ended up about 15 minutes behind the leader and was out of the fight for the win. They still made a focused comeback and moved up to fourth place before the rally came to an end. They can also rejoice in several top times, including three stage wins, three second fastest times and the remaining within top four.
“This was far from what we had hoped for, but you can not do anything other than recharge and make the most of the event based on the situation you find yourself in” says Pontus. “The time difference was too big to be able to get back in the fight for podium positions, but it is important for the future to get the experience. Patrik has done a great job as co-driver and overall the feeling with the car has been good, just like the speed, so we are nevertheless pleased that we could finish the rally and get a result.”
Results WRC 2 – Rallye de France-Alsace
1. Quentin Gilbert (FRA) 2:48:56.8
2. Bernardo Sousa (PRT) +8.1
3. Seb Chardonnet (FRA) +2:07.3
4. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) +15:35.3
5. Jaroslav Koltun (POL) +29:27.3