After a thrilling battle, Swedish rally ace Pontus Tidemand took the victory at a massively rough Rally Argentina. “A great victory after a tough weekend, these points might become very valuable for the championship” he said.
Rally Argentina, the gravel event that is one of a kind among the others in the WRC series, is just as well-known for its challenges as it is for its grand landscapes. On the soft sandy roads with hidden rocks and the twisty mountain roads, both with hundred thousands of spectators lining up, it is all about clever driving and getting through every stage with the car in one piece.
Last year’s WRC 2 champion, Pontus Tidemand, is aiming towards defending his and SKODA Motorsport’s title and to do that, the plan is to score as good results as possible at every rally. The speed and the winning instinct is there, but at tough events like this, patience and tactics also play a big role.
Pontus and his co-driver Jonas Andersson started Rally Argentina in the best way by taking the lead already on Friday and hold on to it until Saturday. Their SKODA Motorsport team-mate, Finnish youngster Kalle Rovanperä, pushed hard and passed them by in the standings with the Swedes right behind.
“The team wanted us to safely get through the day without doing anything crazy so we made sure we stayed on the right side and didn’t take any risks. To go flat out at stages like those we had yesterday could not only have jeopardized the rally but also the championship, so we played it safe” said Pontus, who took back a few seconds before Saturday was over and began to put pressure on Rovanperä.
On the final day, Pontus went for the victory with a proper attack and after the first stage of the morning, he had reduced more than half the gap to the Finn. But the intense battle came to an abrupt end when Rovanperä went off on the penultimate stage. Pontus climbed to the lead and with a time difference of almost six minutes down to Brittish Gus Greensmith in second place, he had to focus completely on getting to the finish line in a controlled way.
“This was a great victory after a rough weekend” said a pleased Pontus. “We were at it from the first meter and we’ve been fighting in demanding conditions with tough competition. It was a shame that we didn’t get to battle it out with Kalle (Rovanperä) all the way. He impressed big time and it would have been fun to keep the fight going until the very last stage. Everything has been working well with the car and the teamwork has been perfect during the whole competition, but today when we got to push, it felt even better.
In addition to his WRC 2 win, Pontus also finished on top of the RC2 category for R5 cars, with his other SKODA colleague Ole Christian Veiby behind him. Overall in the rally, he finished tenth.
Ahead of the event, Pontus said that his target was to leave Argentina with the championship lead – a goal he managed to reach. Three rallies of seven are completed and he is exactly where he want to be in the standings.
“Every point is important by the end of the season so maximum points here might be really valuable for us. Our job is to make sure that SKODA secures the title in both the drivers’ championship and the team championship and with two victories and a second place, we are in a good position. The year is still long and the competition is harder than ever so we need to continue giving it our all at every rally” said Pontus.