Pontus Tidemand managed to bring home the victory in Norway’s biggest rally, Rally Finnskog, this weekend. For the first time since 2012, he drove EVEN Management’s Skoda Fabia Super 2000. He excelled right from start and after the ten special stages, the victory margin landed on nearly a minute and a half.
Almost a hundred cars came to start when Rally Finnskog celebrated it’s 30th anniversary. With a long history, including 15 years as European Championship rally, this event contains some of Norway’s most classic stages and usually never disappoints neither participants or spectators. After the shortest stage got cancelled in advance, ten special stages – five unique that would be ran twice – were on the schedule during the event’s two days.
Friday’s four stages ran in the dark and Pontus and co-driver Ola Fløene showed that they’ve kept their WRC pace when they took command from stage one. Before the overnight break, they had close to a minute’s lead and Pontus was in his right element:
“We got a great start and had loads of fun. The Varaldskogen stage, which we drove twice in the dark, is by far the coolest stage I’ve driven this season, you could really push in there!”
Saturday went smoothly as well for Pontus, even though it was a bit slippery and difficult to find grip in the somewhat loose surface. But the road conditions stayed desent although they were a bit slushy and rough on the second lap and Pontus continued to dominate the rally all the way to finish. The winning margin measured one minute and 23 seconds ahead of runner up Anders Grøndal in a Subaru Impreza STi. Frank Tore Larsen finished third in his Ford Fiesta R5.
“It’s a relief to have found the great feeling in the car again, the one that never appeared in Rally Sweden ” says Pontus. “This event gave us a lot and everything worked flawlessly with both the car and the team around me, at the same time as we found more to work on. But it’s a positive thing, we constantly strive forward and I’m really looking forward to continuing the season internationally.”
Pontus now aims towards Rally Portugal, where participation in a Ford Fiesta R5 is planned. The prize for the JWRC victory was said to be six pre-paid starts in the WRC2 category during 2014, but when it came down to it, it turned out that the prize only covered car and tyres. Pontus have to pay the rest of the costs himself and with backup from EVEN Management and Tätab, the hard work to find the budget has started. The goal is to have the whole season, with at least six events, planned already from the beginning.
Photo: Benjamin A. Ward