This weekend, Pontus Tidemand is back in the WRC and makes his second world championship start this year for SKODA Motorsport. Rally Portugal is one of the toughest gravel rallies on the calendar with fierce competition, but the Swede is ready to take on the challenge and fight for a top result.
After a successful 2015, with victories or podiums in most events and scoring the title in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, the 25-year-old from Charlottenberg in Sweden now continues his second season for the Czech team SKODA Motorsport. The season premiere took place on home soil at Rally Sweden and that was also the first event together with co-driver Jonas Andersson. Their teamwork was a given success and they finished second in the WRC 2 category.
Since Rally Sweden in February, it has been all about preparing with both gravel and asphalt tests and a Czech championship rally on the schedule. Despite focusing on getting asphalt practice and finding the rhythm, the Swedish duo finished second and got an extra boost ahead of the upcoming events.
“I am incredibly motivated to be back in the WRC and to continue the fight that we started in Sweden” said Pontus. “This is when it gets serious again and we have had the opportunity to prepare thoroughly over the past months so we are as ready as we possibly can be and the car is very sharp and competitive.”
Rally Portugal has been named ‘The best rally in the world’ five times and with its long and demanding stages on different kinds of gravel, the rally offers a challenge that is appreciated among both teams and spectators. Last year the event was moved to the northern part of the country and it stays there this year as well and is also this time based in Matosinhos. The ceremonial start in the city of Guimarães is followed by a super special at Lousada rallycross track on Thursday evening. Friday’s stages are located to the area near the Spanish border, while Saturday’s leg takes place around Amarante. On Sunday, the classic Fafe stage is the main attraction and tens of thousands of fans are expected to visit the big jump that the stage is so famous for.
“We made our debut with the Fabia R5 in Portugal last year and we finished third. It would be fun to beat that result this year. As usual we aim to finish as high up on the podium as possible, but most important right now is to get as many points as we can from this event. It is no secret that we want to win the championship and every rally is crucial points wise” said Pontus, who is in sixth place in the championship standings despite the fact that he has only done one WRC 2 round so far.
A total of 25 crews have entered the WRC 2 class in Portugal and the competition will not be easy. Most of them are, just like Pontus and Jonas, well prepared and ready for a close battle. The 19 stages measuring nearly 370 km might become a real thriller in the end. In Portugal it is not always the fastest one that takes the win – you also have to be clever and tactic to reach the finish line.