The debut with M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta WRC on gravel is done and now Pontus Tidemand is looking to both show improvements and continue his development on gravel. With unpredictable weather and long competitive days, legendary Wales Rally GB offers another tough challenge for the crews.
“Wales Rally GB is a rally that I like a lot and it suits me and my driving style quite well. Knowing that I’ve done well there in the past gives me more confidence, but I will still be competing against the best drivers in the world and I am still continuing my own development” said Pontus, who has taken one victory and two second places at his three previous starts in the WRC 2 category in Wales.
The Turkish WRC event a few weeks ago was Pontus’ first rally on gravel with the new generation WRC car. As one of the most difficult rallies in the WRC calendar, it was a challenging gravel debut, but Pontus and his co-driver Ola Fløene made a solid performance and finished ninth at the same time as they got a lot of valuable experience.
“At the end of Rally Turkey I felt as though I’d found the right set-up for me and that I could drive how I wanted, and we were quicker. I’m hoping to start where we left off. We had a great test with the team earlier this week, and I’m feeling more and more at home with the car. And since Wales Rally GB will be my second gravel rally with the Ford Fiesta WRC, I hope we can show some improvements” said Pontus.
The Welsh roads might not be the most technically demanding roads, but they quickly become treacherously slippery when wet – and wet weather is more or less a tradition at Wales Rally GB. The changing weather combined with long days don’t offer a single moment for the crews to relax – endurance and the ability to read the road’s constantly changing grip are two key factors.
“The biggest challenge in Wales is always the unpredictable weather. We need to be prepared for everything – rain, fog, mud and constant grip changes. The roads might not be technically tricky, but the conditions are really unpredictable and that’s what makes it so challenging. The stages also change their character depending on what area we are in, and we need to be able to adjust to all of these different surface changes.”
As many as 22 stages, measuring approximately 312 kilometer, await the crews over the weekend. This year, the service area moves from Deeside to the coastal resort of Llandudno. Thursday evening’s Ceremonial Start is followed by a spectator stage at the race track Oulton Park and then three days of proper forest action on some of the WRC series’ most iconic stages.