This weekend, SKODA works driver Pontus Tidemand showed that he has the courage and the skills that it takes to succeed on Rally Poland’s fast roads. With an incredible pace, he had a grip of the WRC 2 lead and increased it after each stage when a technical problem ruined his podium chances.
Pontus Tidemand was fifth fastest in his SKODA Fabia R5 on the short opening stage at Mikolajki Arena on Thursday, but he was only a second shy off the lead. When the rally kicked off for real with proper stages on Friday morning, Pontus did not hesitate – he wanted the top position. He took the lead already on the first stage of the day and impressed the world of rallying as he won stage after stage. When the eighth stage was completed, he had a 10,2 seconds’ advantage over Teemu Suninen in second place. But on the following stage, the fun came to an end for Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson.
“We had a ball joint failure” explained Pontus. “It was a huge disappointment, for us as well as the team, but things happen and this time it happened to us. A real bummer that it happened when we were having a fantastic day where everything worked perfectly and we were in the lead.”
The Swedish duo were forced to retire with just two stages left on the schedule for the day. Luckily, the team was able to fix the problem once the car was back at the service park to make it possible for Pontus and Jonas to restart on Saturday.
With the podium chances gone, they had to go with a different target and change their focus. The Finnish WRC event is only a few weeks away and just like Rally Poland, it is a high speed event, so the Swedes considered the Polish stages great practice. On the remaining 11 stages, it was all about getting experience and adjusting the pacenotes for next year. They still had a good pace on both Saturday and Sunday, set great times and made a phenomenal climb up the leaderboard – from 21st to 7th place.
“It was a shame that we missed out on the thrilling fight that we started, but we did the best we could of the situation” said Pontus. “We have lots of positives to take with us from this weekend. On Friday, we were on top and could keep our competitors behind us, while last year, we were 50 seconds behind the leader. So we have definitely taken big steps forward over the past 12 months. Now we look forward to go flat out in Finland!”
As mentioned, Rally Finland is the next rally in line for EVEN Management’s Pontus and Jonas. The event runs on classic Finnish rally roads during the last weekend in July.