Due to the current crisis in the world, Rally Mexico was finished on Saturday evening instead of on Sunday to give teams and everyone working with the WRC a chance to make it home before borders and airports close down.
Swedish rally ace Pontus Tidemand is fond of Mexico – in three starts at the Mexican WRC event, he has now taken just as many victories. He proved himself unbeatable during the three competitive days and could finally secure the WRC 2 win together with Toksport WRT after a brilliant performance on gravel roads as well as narrow city streets.
“This is exactly how we hoped and fought for the weekend to end. But nothing comes for free in Mexico and things can quickly turn around so we didn’t take anything for granted even though winning was our goal. The feeling right now, that is something I’ve been missing for quite some time” said a pleased Pontus.
Already from the first meter of Rally Mexico, it was clear that Pontus and his co-driver Patrik Barth wanted to battle for the win. They took the WRC 2 lead after Thursday’s opening spectator stages and held on to it.
They impressed greatly on Friday’s long special stages, dominated the class and extended their lead to almost a minute. At the end of Friday, they had been fastest on all stages so far and topped the leaderboard in both the WRC 2 class and RC2, or Rally 2, as the category for R5 cars is called.
“Everything worked perfectly for us from start” said Pontus. “It’s a bit tricky with tyre choice, constantly changing grip and less power due to the high altitude, but I like the challenge of finding a good and quick pace despite all these difficulties. The team did an amazing job and gave us a fantastic car and we could push without taking any risks that might jeopardize our chances of a good result. Friday was a great day for us and we could extend the gap to second place, which is always nice if you happen to make a mistake.”
With a good lead, there was no reason for Pontus to be reckless on Saturday, but the tough roads still made it challenging for the Swedish duo.
“We were a little careful in the morning since we probably didn’t make the right tyre choice. We picked hard ones, but should have gone with soft instead. We still managed to extend our advantage, but got a slow puncture that cost us some time” said Pontus.
In the afternoon, all crews and teams were informed that a decision to finish the rally after Saturday’s last stage had been made due to the global outbreak of COVID-19. Many countries’ borders and airports will close down during the upcoming days and an earlier finish was necessary to give the teams a chance to safely get home in time. Only three stages were on Sunday’s programme and with more than 75% of the event behind, full championship points can be given out.
Pontus was quickest on five of Saturday’s nine stages and could safely secure the victory after the three final spectator stages.
“It hasn’t been easy, but that’s what makes it interesting. We tried to keep the balance between an okay pace and staying on the safe side and avoid big rocks. When you don’t need to push and back off a bit, that’s often when you start making mistakes and we really wanted to get this victory for the team. I’m very grateful that Toksport gave us the chance to be here, this weekend couldn’t have gone any better” said Pontus.
Pontus won the WRC 2 class and was also the fastest R5 car during the weekend. Overall in the rally, he finished in sixth place, which is his best result ever.