A solid start followed by clever and careful driving was not enough for Pontus Tidemand to stay on the safe side at an incredibly rough Rally Turkey. Three punctures caught him out on Friday and when additional damages were discovered, it was a no go for the rest of the weekend.
After saving the tyres on the opening stage of Rally Turkey on Thursday evening, Pontus Tidemand and his co-driver Jonas Andersson were in third place ahead of the first proper stages on Friday.
In exceptionally rough conditions, they took on the challenge. First up were the longest stage of the rally (38.10 km) and the Swedish crew began in a careful way and then speeded up during the morning loop. Before lunch service, they had narrowed down the gap to Jan Kopecký, their SKODA team-mate and biggest competition this weekend, by half and then only five seconds separated them.
If the morning was trouble free, the afternoon was the exact opposite – for many drivers. Both Pontus and Kopecký suffered double punctures and had to stop and change the tyres, but still managed to stay in top three. But without any spare tyres left, the risks got even bigger and despite being extremely careful, Pontus caught another puncture with one stage to go. He started Friday’s final stage and tried to reach the finish, but only made it halfway and had to retire.
The team hoped for a restart on Saturday but when the car got back to service, additional structural damage was discovered. Technical stewards of the FIA were consulted and the conclusion was that Pontus and Jonas would not be able to restart due to safety reasons.
“It’s a real shame and I’m obviously very disappointed” said Pontus. “But at the same time, safety always comes first. This is especially hard to take since I know how careful we were yesterday and did everything in our power to not end up in a situation like this. It would have been another thing if we pushed and took huge risks, but we didn’t at all. But that’s the way the sport is, we’ll recharge our batteries and come back stronger.”
Now the Swedes look forward to the next WRC 2 event, which takes place in Wales in the beginning of October.