Tidemand aims for the top on Mexico’s hot heights

He never slowed down after the season premiere – and the first podium of the year – at Rally Sweden. With countless test kilometers behind, title defending SKODA driver Pontus Tidemand is more than up for his next WRC 2 mission at staggering heights in Mexico.

From snow to gravel, cold to heat and from flat landscapes to mountains – Rally Sweden could not be any further from Rally Mexico in environments, neither distance. Ruling WRC 2 champion Pontus Tidemand has had an intense preparation the past weeks and looks forward to taking on the WRC series’ perhaps most colorful event.

“I literally barely got out of the rally car in Sweden before it was time to jump on a plane to southern Europe for a week of testing” explained Pontus, who is used to a high pace both during and between events and quickly recharges for what is to come.

“It definitely feels like an advantage that we never really got out of the rally bubble and that we’ve had lots of time behind the wheel. When we started Rally Sweden we hadn’t been competing in almost four months and the first big task was to find the competitive speed again. Now we’re back in the game with full power and that’s a great feeling to bring to Mexico.”

Rally Mexico has its base in the city of Léon, 400 kilometers northwest of Mexico City, while the real challenges await in the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains. The event reaches the championship’s highest altitudes with the top point of over 2700 meters above sea level, which makes it extra demanding for the cars’ engines as they get up to 20% less power in the thin air. At the same time, the temperatures of about 30 degrees Celcius are tough on material as well as drivers.

“This is a rally that has everything” said Pontus. “Fast sections, narrow and technical sections, hairpins and corners. The climb up the mountains is rough on the engines and if you make a mistake, you quickly notice that it costs more than usual since it takes longer to speed up. So it’s all about staying focused.”

Pontus made his Rally Mexico debut last year and, despite that, he and his experienced co-driver Jonas Andersson took the win – the second of the all in all five wins throughout the year.

“Of course we aim to repeat last year’s victory. I feel like this is an event that suits us well and this year I have a bit more experience compared to last year when everything was new to me. But we will have to fight hard against skilled drivers. Our Finnish SKODA Motorsport team-mate, Kalle Rovanperä, is very good and Jari Huttunen is fast, just like Mexican Benito Guerra, who knows the roads well and finished third last year. It feels like we might have an exciting battle here too, something I’m really hoping for” said Pontus.

Czech Jan Kopecký and Japanese Takamoto Katsuta are currently topping the overall WRC 2 leaderboard with 25 points each after their victories in Monte-Carlo and Sweden. Just behind, we find Pontus after his second place at Rally Sweden and Italian Eddie Sciessere, both with 18 points. So far, no WRC 2 driver has done more than one event so the standings are expected to change both one and two times over the upcoming rallies.