After the grand victory in front of his home crowd at Rally Sweden, EVEN Management and SKODA Motorsport’s Pontus Tidemand is tied for the lead in the WRC 2 championship. Now a new challenge awaits when he makes his Rally Mexico debut and continues to chase points at high altitude in the warm landscape.
Pontus Tidemand has taken aim at the world champion title in the WRC 2 and got the best possible start to his season when he fulfilled all expectations at the Swedish event. The victory placed him tied for the lead after his first rally out of the seven that are included in the championship.
“The win in Sweden was one of the greatest things in my career so far and an amazing feeling” said Pontus. “I know what I want and this encourages and motivates me very much for the rest of the season. The odds are on our side to make it all the way this year and now it’s all about not leaving anything to chance and give it our all at every event.”
Although Pontus competed for his first WRC 2 points of the year at Rally Sweden, he and his co-driver Jonas Andersson began their season with a strong fourth place at Rallye Monte Carlo, an event that Pontus did for the first time. Now it is time for his next debut – this time at another continent and in unique conditions. Rally Mexico is the first gravel rally of the year, but far from a regular gravel event.
Rally Mexico’s playground is the mountain ranges of Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato and the competition reaches the highest altitudes of the WRC with 2746 meters above the sea as the highest point. The thin air reduces the engine power by 20 percent and a top notch performance from both teams and drivers is required. The team works to get the most out of the car while driver and co-driver need to have flawless pacenotes and it is of greater importance than usual to avoid mistakes. You can lose a big chunk of time on the tiniest mistake since it takes longer to accelerate due to the reduced power.
“All new experiences are good experiences and this will be a really fun event” said Pontus. “This is a long rally that stands out from the others and careful preparation and full concentration are a must. Tyre choice and setup are also important and I hope to have an advantage since my co-driver has competed here many times before. The high altitude is a new challenge, but I’m expecting to get used to it before start.”
Another one of Mexico’s difficulties is the temperatures that often reach 30°C at this time of the year. The heat affects and demands more of the cars’ components but also puts pressure on the drivers who need to stay focused in a cockpit that might be up to 50°C. The gravel roads themselves are also a challenge with tough terrain and a surface that tends to get extra rough on the second loop.
The rally base is located in Mexico’s fifth largest city, León, but the start on Thursday evening takes place in Mexico City and is followed by a street stage in the city center, where 200 000 spectators are expected. Friday’s stages are held in the area around Guanajuato, while Saturday and Sunday’s stages run closer to the hosting city. In total, the rally measures 370.46 km, divided into 19 special stages, among them the monster long El Chocolate stage of 54.90 km.
“We are a hundred percent ready to take on this. As this is my first time in Mexico, I don’t know exactly what to expect in practice, but we will go for the win. Our goal is to get as much points as possible and strengthen our position in the championship. Most of the season is left and this early, every point is important to eventually get to where we want to be when the competitive year is coming to an end” said Pontus.