Sweden’s Pontus Tidemand aims for the top when he starts the hunt for the WRC 2 title at the highlight of the rally season – Rally Sweden. The SKODA driver makes his sixth start at the Swedish event and more focused and determined than ever, he hopes that the thorough preparation will pay off.
Rally talent Pontus Tidemand started his third year with SKODA Motorsport by making his debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo a few weeks ago. He has kept his competitive shape with hard work, both in and outside of the car – everything to be as ready as possible for Rally Sweden.
“We compete all over the world, but if there’s anywhere you really want to succeed, it’s on your home soil, in front of people that have supported you for many years. This season, we’re kicking every little detail up a notch and we’ve spent the time leading up to this rally by preparing thoroughly. At this past weekend’s test, we drove about 500 km on roads of the same characters as the special stages and it feels like we have found a good setup” said Pontus, who together with his co-driver Jonas Andersson finished second in the WRC 2 class last year.
Rally Sweden is the only real snow event on the WRC calendar and is worldwide known for its frozen roads lined with snow banks. But the last years’ changes in temperature have come with new challenges. With warmer temperatures, it is easy to get stuck in the snow banks that help to guide the cars round the corners and the tyre studs might tear up the road surface and expose gravel, which rips the studs from the tyres and leaves them with little grip.
This year, the rally base moves further north and has its centre in the city of Torsby in northern Värmland county with snow covered stages in both the Swedish and Norwegian forests. More than half of the stages are new compared to last year and the Hof-Finnskog stage has never been used before.
“It will be a fast rally this year” said Pontus. “You can keep a high speed on many of the stages and many cars, including our Fabia R5, have been further developed since last year, while the new WRC cars obviously top the experience for the spectators along the stages.”
The rally weekend starts traditionally with a grand opening ceremony at the Färjestad track in Karlstad, where also the first super special stage takes place. Friday offers action across the border to Norway and classic roads in the area around Hagfors will be driven on Saturday. Only three stages await the crews on Sunday with the Likenäs stage, which will be run twice, and the Torsby stage as the Power Stage.
“We’re aiming high this weekend and will give everything to reach our goal. The competition is always tough in Sweden, especially from our fellow Scandinavians. It’s important to stay in the lines, read the surface and not rely blindly on the snow banks. I feel like we have a good chance of finishing on top and right now I’m just looking forward to start the rally” said Pontus.