This year’s WRC is approaching its end as the series’ penultimate rally takes on the Spanish east coast this weekend. Pontus Tidemand is back in his SKODA Fabia R5 and is ready for the event with the famous roads with racing character – an event that is high on Pontus’ own chart.
“Rally Spain is one of my favorites in the WRC, maybe even the rally that I like the most, besides Rally Sweden of course” said Pontus. “The roads are very cool to drive and as the event mixes gravel and asphalt, there is an extra technical challenge and you get useful experience each time. I have been looking forward to this rally a long time so now I’m counting the days until it all starts.”
Rally de Espana is the only event in the WRC calendar that has both gravel and asphalt stages and the rally, which is based in the tourist city of Salou, attracts huge crowds every year. After a spectator stage in Barcelona on Thursday evening, eight gravel stages – though with sections of asphalt – await on Friday. With the cars set up for gravel roads, it takes a big amount of precision from the drivers to manage these tarmac sections without losing time or focus. Saturday’s itinerary consists of six fast and sweeping stages on roads that are often compared to a race track. Another six asphalt stages are to be found on the schedule for Sunday. The 23 special stages cover a total of 331.25 km and they really challenge the drivers’ skills to quickly adjust their driving style overnight. At the same time it also demands a lot from the teams that need to change the cars’ specification during an evening service that, due to the set up change, is longer than usual.
The outcome of the WRC 2 category is still open and Pontus and his co-driver Emil Axelsson, who together have been on the podium in three out of four WRC 2 events for SKODA Motorsport, is in sixth place in the overall classification with just 19 points to the third place. Pontus sees the chances for a nice end to the season and without putting any pressure on himself ahead of the weekend, he looks forward to get to tackle the Spanish roads.
“Given that we retired in Corsica, it would be a great feeling to get revenge by having a perfect rally from start to finish, but right now our main objective is to reach the finish on Sunday. I want to deliver a good result, but I will drive wisely and not take any unnecessary risks. We just need to take it stage by stage and set our attack plan as we go along.”
About 15 cars start in this weekend’s WRC 2 and it is set for a fierce fight with, among others, championship leader Nasser Al-Attiyah, Pontus’ teammate Esapekka Lappi, who is second, and third place holder Yuriy Protasov among the competitors.
This time, SKODA Motorsport competes with three cars; apart from Pontus and Esapekka, Czech Jan Kopecký is behind the wheel of the team’s third Fabia R5. In addition to those three, Al-Attiyah and German Armin Kremer also drive a Fabia R5.