Starting Thursday, WRC 2 leading SKODA driver Pontus Tidemand participates at his fifth event in this year’s championship, where he so far has been undefeated. Now the focus is on high speed – confidence and courage are what matters when the crews attack some of the fastest roads in the WRC at Rally Poland.
The Polish WRC event is one of the world’s oldest rallies. It was run for the first time as early as 1921 and over the years it has made a couple of appearances in the WRC. In its current package, it has been permanent in the championship since 2014 and is a favorite among drivers as well as rally fans – perhaps because of the breathtaking speed.
“Rally Poland is a rally that I really like” said Pontus. “Last year we were in the lead when we got technical problems, but we took with us the fact that we lead for most of the event. The year before, 2015, we finished second so I have good memories from here and hopefully there will be more this year. We need to think about the championship points but the target is as always to finish on top of the podium, at the same time as the competition is tough and many of the drivers know how to put the pedal to the metal.”
The Masurian Lake District and the city of Mikolajki, a few hours north of Warsaw, are once again the rally base. Mikolajki hosts the start, finish and a super special next to the service park that will wrap up three of the competitive days. The rest of the special stages are run on the picturesque Polish countryside and the characteristic sandy roads hide many challenges. Potentially devastating stones are hidden not only by the sand, but also by the tall grass linings, which also gives the drivers limited visibility when approaching the corners and cutting too much is a big risk.
“Flawless pacenotes are important since even the slightest hesitation can cost time that is difficult to catch when the stages are so quick. The roads are fast and rhythmic but the sand can easily get rough during the day and you have to give it a bit of extra focus” said Pontus, who, as usual, has co-driver Jonas Andersson next to him in the SKODA Fabia R5.
During the past week, Pontus, Jonas and the SKODA team have tested intensively on asphalt and two weeks ago, they participated at the Czech championship event Rally Hustopece – all as a part of the preparation programme for the upcoming WRC challenges on asphalt.
“There has been a lot of asphalt lately so now we need to quickly adjust back to gravel. We will do a small test before the rally kicks off but it might still take a couple of stages to fully get the right feeling. But we will push and hope that our endurance will be an advantage in the end” said Pontus.
Rally Poland is the eighth round of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship and all in all, 326.64 competitive kilometers, divided into 23 stages and four days, will be mastered during the weekend.