Victory was the goal and victory was the result for 22 year old Pontus Tidemand when Rally de Portugal, the first rally in this year’s Junior World Championship, took place during the weekend. Already on the second stage of the rally, Pontus took the lead and managed to keep it all the way until finish on Saturday evening.
Pontus, together with co-driver Ola Fløene, opened up strongly when Rally de Portugal started on Friday. On the first stage, he was the fastest man on most of the split times, and despite some minor issues towards the end of the stage, he was second fastest in the class, beaten by 0.2 seconds. On the next stage he was fastest and also took the overall lead with a time difference of 10.9 seconds down to Spanish José Suarez.
“We caught two cars on the first stage and had some problems with dust on the road, but we made up for it when we were fastest on the second stage, which we’re happy about”, said Pontus, who can participate in the championship thanks to support from EVEN Management and Tommy Andersson, owner of Tätab.
Friday’s third special stage caused problems for almost all JWRC crews as one of the earlier starting cars had crashed in the middle of the stage and was blocking the road. For Pontus, who started as second car in the JWRC class, this meant that he lost more than five minutes. But the held up didn’t make any difference for Pontus, who stayed in the lead even after the organisers had adjusted the times. After a stage win on SS4, Pontus had a 26.4 second lead going into the last stage of the day.
The first day of the rally ended with a spectator stage in Lisbon, where Pontus managed to set another fastest time. With that he increased his lead to 27.0 seconds over second place holder Suarez.
“Everything has worked well today and I’ve both had the right feeling and had fun in the car. Now we’re looking forward to tomorrow when we’ll do everything we can to maintain the lead. Nothing is settled, it is and will be a fight with José Suarez, who has improved his gravel driving, and Marius Aasen, who has driven very good today”, said Pontus on Friday evening.
On Saturday awaited six new stages and as Pontus finished Friday in the lead, he stared as first JWRC car on Saturday morning. He began the day with a stage win and increased the lead to as much as 54.2 seconds overall – a lead that wasn’t worth risking chasing stage wins.
“In that position, I felt that it was more important to see the whole picture and begin to drive more safely to not take any unnecessary risks”, explains Pontus. “The victory was within reach and I really wanted to win.”
After wise and mature driving with two second times and two third times on the following four stages, Pontus had a good lead of 46 seconds before the start of the last stage. He made a flawless finish of the rally with a fifth stage win and the victory margin landed on nearly two and a half minute.
“It feels really great to start the international season with a victory. It was a very tough rally on the rough and rocky roads. Ola and I have had a fantastic weekend where everything has worked perfectly and I’ve been able to just focus on my driving. I would also like to once again thank EVEN Management and Tommy Andersson for this opportunity”, says a happy and content Pontus after the eleventh and last stage.
Final result FIA Junior WRC (JWRC) Vodafone Rally de Portugal 2013:
1. P. Tidemand (SWE) / O. Floene (NOR) 3:01:23.6
2. J. Suarez (ESP) / C. Carrera (ESP) +2:26.9
3. Y. Lemes (ESP) / R. Peñate (ESP) +3:10.7
4. A. Amberg (FIN) / M. Lukka (FIN) +5.27.9
5. M. Koci (SVK) / P. Starý (CZE) +5,57.9
6. M. Aasen (NOR) / M. Engan (NOR) +9:46.5
7. N. Nieminen (FIN) / M. Korhonen (FIN) +11:23.0
8. S. Pärn (EST) / Ken Järveoja (EST) +33:08.5
FIA Junior WRC (JWRC) overall standings after the first of six rallies:
1. P. Tidemand (SWE) 30
2. J. Suarez (ESP) 20
3. Y. Lemes (ESP) 17
4. A. Amberg (FIN) 12
5. M. Koci (SVK) 10
6. J. Aasen (NOR) 9
7. N. Nieminen (FIN) 6
8. S. Pärn (EST) 4