A year ago he was crowned Junior World Champion at Rallye de France-Alsace. Now Pontus Tidemand is back in the French WRC round in his third event with M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta R5 and with fantastic results behind him, he is ready to attack the French tarmac roads.
In addition to his performance in a WRC car in Rally Sweden in February, Pontus has also participated in two WRC 2 rounds this year and he finished on the podium in both events – a third place in Portugal in April and victory in Germany in August.
“Although I have only done two events in the WRC 2 category, I’m very pleased with the progress I have had” says Pontus. “Portugal was my first time with the R5, it felt great from start and that feeling became stronger for each stage. I had no problem adjusting from gravel to asphalt and the win in Germany is my best result so far in my career.”
Rallye de France-Alsace is the shortest round in this year’s WRC series with just over 300 km divided into 18 special stages. It is also one of the most popular event for spectators and large crowds are expected at the city stage in the hosting city of Strasbourg on Friday evening. Rallye de France-Alsace is characterized by its mixture of narrow, technical and fast sections as well as the strategic challenge of tyre choice as the weather over the Vosges Mountains is unpredictable with falling temperatures and often rain. The stages also include winyard sections, wider than those in the German event, and steep climbs in the mountains.
Pontus is accompanied by Patrik Barth, who makes his co-driver debut in the World Rally Championship this weekend. They did their first rally together in a WRC Ford in Norway this summer and took their teamwork one step further when they did the recce for Rally Finland.
“Patrik is ambitious, has great talent and I’m looking forward to doing our first WRC 2 event together” says Pontus. “We have prepared thoroughly and everything worked excellent when we tested on Monday. We aim high and we will do everything we can to top the leaderboard on Sunday, but we are aware that it is a long way to go and anything can happen in rallying.”
Rallye de France-Alsace begins with shakedown and ceremonial start on Thursday and the first special stage kicks off on Friday morning. After three competitive days, the crews reach the finish line shortly after lunch time on Sunday with the prize giving ceremony in the afternoon.