After seven months away from the WRC, Pontus Tidemand made a comeback at the Turkish event. He was focused on his long term goals, built experience now that every kilometer is valuable during this learning curve. “I aimed to have a solid rally and I feel like that’s exactly what we’ve had” said Pontus.
As one of the most difficult and roughest events on this year’s WRC calendar, Rally Turkey was no easy task for Pontus, especially considering the fact that he has only done two WRC events in this car – on snow, ice and tarmac. Now it was all about gravel and the demanding challenge with high temperatures and extreme roads with very rough gravel, makes this rally one of a kind.
Pontus and his co-driver Ola Fløene started their weekend in an impressive way on Thursday. On the evening’s Super Special Stage, they were third quickest and found themselves just 1.6 seconds from the lead. But they didn’t get the best start the following day. A puncture already on the first stage of the morning made the Swedish/Norwegian duo lose time and drop down on the leaderboard.
“Of course you lose the flow a bit, but punctures are definitely no surprise here in Turkey” said Pontus. “Considering our plan and strategy for the weekend, maybe this was not the most devastating thing that could have happened. We knew that we had to do our own race and not compare too much to the other drivers with much more experience.”
The remaining Friday stages were tough tests like no other in the championship and many crews struggled to get through. Big rocks in the ruts and heavy rain showers became a reminder that not only speed counts in Turkey – to use your head and also have a bit of luck on your side is equally, if not more, important.
From tenth place, Pontus and Ola continued to gain experience and progress on Saturday on faster and smoother roads. They learned more for every stage as they were the first car on the road and the feeling got better and better.
“On the two last stages on Saturday, I felt that we began to find and get into the rhythm. We had the same positive vibe on Sunday and then we started as number two instead of first and could follow Tänak’s lines. We finished the rally with some of the weekend’s best stages time-wise and that’s something we will take with us” said Pontus.
On all of Sunday’s stages, Pontus had a good pace and was not far behind the top drivers. On the final stage, where many drivers give their all to cash in on bonus points, Pontus was only ten seconds slower than the quickest time and secured ninth place overall.
“Ahead of this rally I said that I wanted to have a solid event, no heroics, and I feel like that is exactly what we have done” said Pontus. “To be able to join the fight for real in the nearest future I need time in the car and I need challenges to grow into it. Rally Turkey was a perfect event for that. We have learnt a lot and there are still more to learn, but experience is the key and I’m really happy and grateful that I got to do this event. Now we have a lot of things to analyze when we get home to get the most out of this weekend. Then we will be ready for Wales!”
Pontus’ next event is Wales Rally GB, which takes place already on 3-6 October.