After three competitive days at a slightly different Rally Sweden, Pontus Tidemand managed to secure a podium finish in the WRC 2 class together with his German team Toksport World Rally Team in a Skoda Fabia R5 Evo. “This made me hungry for more, I just want to get back out and push more” said the Swede.
“It’s been an extremely nice feeling to be back in a rally car, although I quickly noticed that the five months without competing actually made it a little more complicated. But I’m very happy with the weekend. We still got into it pretty fast and had a fun Swedish/Norwegian battle among us with similar cars and similar conditions.
Due to the lack of winter weather and frozen roads, this year’s Rally Sweden was shortened before the event. The plan was to run 11 of the originally 19 special stages, but eventually another two stages had to be cancelled – the opening Super Special Stage in Karlstad on Thursday evening and the first run on the Likenäs stage on Sunday. Despite that, maximum championship points were given out and the rally counts in the same way as the rest of the events in the WRC series.
“The conditions this year were a bit different compared to what we’re used to see at Rally Sweden, but rallying is supposed to be challenging and unpredictable. Ahead of the event, we had a test in Anttila on great roads in perfect winter conditions and that felt really good. Maybe we should have tested in similar conditions to what we had this weekend as well, just to feel more confident with the car and dare to push even more. With the grip that we had, you could go as fast as you dared and it was a lot about being brave, cut corners and take risks, or chances, depending on how you see it” said Pontus with a smile.
On Friday, Pontus and his co-driver Patrik Barth got a good grip of third place in the WRC 2 class. On demanding roads they kept their position on Saturday and found themselves in an exciting fight between the Swedish and Norwegian crews. Pontus and Johan Kristoffersson were equally fast, just like Ole Christian Veiby, with Mads Östberg and Oliver Solberg just a little quicker in the RC2 category, which is a category for all the R5 cars that in turn consists of two classes – WRC 2 (works team) and WRC 3 (private teams).
In rainy and windy weather, the drivers faced the ninth and last stage on Sunday.
“It was really slippery and the grip was more changing than I expected. We made a little mistake in the beginning of the stage and lost a couple of seconds. But nothing affected our position so we were happy to get through with a good time after all and score championship points” said Pontus, who was second quickest in the class and fifth fastest among the R5 cars.
With this, Pontus finished in third place in the WRC 2 and sixth place in the RC2 category.
“The team and Patrik has done an amazing job all weekend. I would also like to thank my partners who made this possible. Even though we had a shorter route this year, the atmosphere in the forest has been absolutely fantastic. I’m both happy and proud that we have such a well organized WRC event on my home turf and as a Swedish driver I really feel the support from the spectators. In every stage I’ve seen so many Swedish flags and that’s a boost that can’t be described” said Pontus and continued:
“This made me hungry for more, I just want to get back out and push more. I don’t know when and where my next event will be, but I know that the WRC 2 championship is what I would like to do this year. I’m sure that we have more to give and considering the tough competition in the class this year, I think this could be a very exciting season.”