A focused effort during Wales Rally GB’s four rough days with tough competition on mixed surfaces eventually gave Pontus Tidemand second place in the WRC 2 category. “It’s been a long weekend in difficult conditions, but I’m happy with what we have accomplished” said Pontus.
After a great start at the spectator stage at Tir Prince raceway on Thursday evening, the first day of Wales Rally GB came with some struggles for ruling WRC 2 champion Pontus Tidemand. On Friday he tried hard to find the right setup on his SKODA Fabia R5 at the same time as he saw his leading team-mate, young Finn Kalle Rovanperä, fly on the stages.
“That was definitely the most demanding day of the rally, where the road character and the grip constantly changed. We struggled with understeer and couldn’t challenge in the way we had hoped for and instead we just had to make it through the day” said Pontus.
A minute off the lead, he tackled Saturday’s programme, which was the longest of the event. The competitors also had to survive the stages without any midpoint service and necessary repairs or adjustments had to be fixed by the crew with the tools and spare parts that they carried with them in the car. Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson did well both during the rainy and slippery morning and the sunny afternoon, where the roads dried up and offered better grip. But an even fight with Rovanperä made the gap between first and second place stay the same while Pontus strengthened his second place and put Brittish Gus Greensmith further behind in third place.
To defend third position to the finish was the main task on Sunday’s final five stages. A cosmetic damage looked for a brief moment like it could jeopardize the result, but thanks to Pontus and Jonas’ mechanic skills, they managed to fix the problem.
“We hit right rear on the second stage of the day” said Pontus. “Luckily we carried enough spare parts to take care of it. We lost a little time but with pretty big time differences, it didn’t affect anything. Most important was the fact that we controlled second place and brought it back to the team.”
Pontus drove sensibly towards the finish line and secured his 31st podium in the WRC – and helped SKODA Motorsport to yet another 1-2 victory.
“It’s been a long weekend in difficult conditions, but I’m really happy with what we have accomplished. Out of 23 R5 cars, we finished second and we have fought for top times. Sure we aimed for the victory for the championship standings, but that chance more or less disappeared already on Friday. I’m impressed by Kalle’s pace, especially on Friday, and it would have been fun to have an even battle all the way, like we had on Saturday and Sunday. Apart from the second place, we also take great experience on complicated surfaces with us, which is superb for the future” said Pontus.