Rally Finland, the third round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, is accomplished and after scooping another podium, Pontus Tidemand extends his lead in the championship ahead of the upcoming tarmac events. Just as he predicted, Rally Finland turned out to be a tough event and after a problematic second day, he finished in the best way possible and is pleased with third place and the continued lead.
Six stages were on the schedule when Rally Finland got underway on Thursday. Most stages were shorter than 10 km, but that didn’t make the day any less challenging. Sun turned into rain and many crews had problems with the slippery surface towards the evening. Pontus and co-driver Ola Fløene managed to keep an even pace and are happy with the first day of the rally.
“We’ve had a good start today”, said Pontus on Thursday evening. “We found a good pace and kept it without pushing or taking unnecessary risks. We have to keep an eye at the leader board and see what we can do, but we don’t want to take too big risks.”
On Friday, the Finnish roads were rough on Pontus’ Ford Fiesta R2. The problems began already on the morning’s first stage – a puncture and a broken wishbone slowed him down and caused difficulties on the first four stages. Still, Pontus had climbed up to second place before the midday service break. But unfortunately it took more time than allowed to fix the car, which made Pontus and co-driver Ola Fløene late out of service and thereby got three minutes and ten seconds of time penalty.
Despite that, Pontus showed his incredible mental strength by coming back and immediately take a stage win on stage 11. But with the penalty they dropped down to sixth place and more problems were to come.
“It was really rough”, said Pontus. “We tried to avoid rocks, but picked up a puncture anyway and lost time on stage 12 and stage 13 was a real challenge.”
On stage 14, Pontus got another stage win when he was 17 seconds faster than Yeray Lemes. Just like Thursday, Friday evening ended with the super special stage Killeri and even though Pontus pushed a little too much, he set a third fastest time and was only over a second behind the stage winner. Before the overnight break, Pontus was back in third place.
When Saturday’s stages got going, the previous problems were nothing but a memory. The juniors drove the first four stages and Pontus was fastest on all four, which means that he took all of Saturday’s points for stage wins and finished in third place in the class.
“We can’t be anything other than pleased with the result, especially considering the penalty we got on Friday”, says Pontus. “Our plan was to start the rally safely, which we did. Problems are never fun, but things like that happen and you have to make the best of it. On the final day, our goal was to get to the finish and try to get as many stage win points as possible. That we managed to get six points for the stages is positive for the overall standings in the championship and I’m so happy to have extended the lead.”
Rally Finland was, as mentioned, the third rally out of six in this year’s Junior World Rally Championship and after having finished on the podium in all three rallies, Pontus extends his championship lead with 29 points ahead of José Suarez, who only scored two points in Finland. That means that Pontus starts the second half of the JWRC season with a good lead when three tarmac rallies in a row awaits. First up is Rally Deutschland in three weeks.
Results FIA Junior WRC Neste Oil Rally Finland 2013
1. A. Amberg (FIN) / M. Lukka (FIN) 2:34:51.9
2. S. Pärn (EST) / K. Järveoja (EST) +2:24.6
3. P. Tidemand (SWE) / O. Floene (NOR) +2:52.5
4. Y. Lemes (ESP) / R. Penate (ESP) +3:41.8
5. M. Aasen (NOR) / M. Engan (NOR) +3:52.1
6. M. Burri (SUI) / G. Moreau (FRA) +11:04.6
7. M. Koci (SVK) / P. Starý (CZE) +13:30.4
8. N. Nieminen (FIN) / M. Korhonen (FIN) +20:24.9
9. Suarez (ESP) / C. Carrera (ESP) +45:57.2
FIA Junior WRC standings after round three of six
1. P. Tidemand (SWE) 77
2. J. Suarez (ESP) 48
3. S. Pärn (EST) 43
4. A. Amberg (FIN) 42
5. Y. Lemes (ESP) 31
6. M. Koci (SVK) 24
7. M .Burri (CHE) 20
8. N. Nieminen (FIN) 20
9. M. Aasen (NOR) 19
10. M. Bostanci (TUR) 1
Photo: André Lavadinho