The last two years he has been crowned the winner in the WRC 2 class at the Portuguese WRC event and now SKODA Motorsport driver Pontus Tidemand aims to repeat the success. He arrives in Portugal as the leader of the championship after a phenomenal start of the season and is prepared to give it his all in order to keep his position on the tricky gravel roads of the hugely popular rally.
“Rally Portugal is one of my favorites in the WRC” said Pontus. “I usually find a good vibe here and the fact that we have performed well every time we’ve been here strengthens that feeling. I have to go for the victory and try to be in the top fight from start. I’m ready and prepared and just looking forward to push the pedal to the metal.”
It is easy to understand that Pontus likes Portugal’s roads when looking at his previous results at this rally. He has competed here six times and finished on the podium every time, and he won the WRC 2 category 2017 and 2016 and the JWRC class in 2013.
“Just like at our latest event in Argentina, these roads are based on sand, but also mud and choosing the right tyres is extremely important to get the best possible grip, especially when the weather is unpredictable and the stages are many before we get back to service. There are fast stages and sections but the roads are mainly technical with lots of corners and I think experience is a big advantage” explained Pontus, who is accompanied by Jonas Andersson in the co-driver’s seat.
Rally Portugal has been named ‘Best rally in the world’ on five occasions and the crowds keep growing every year. The base is located in northern Portugal with the service park in the city of Matosinhos and the start ceremony takes place with the majestic castle of Guimarães as a backdrop. The first stage runs on Lousada rallycross track in front of more than 35.000 spectators, but the big highlight is without a doubt the Fafe stage, which runs on Sunday. The famous jump right before the finish and the hills overlooking the classic sweeping corners attracts tens of thousands rally enthusiasts to the Portuguese countryside.
“The rally itself looks pretty much like it did last year so we are familiar with what awaits us. The only thing that is new compared to last year is Friday night’s street stage in Porto, which will be fun since I like that kind of stages. The atmosphere will definitely be on top with enormous crowds and that is always encouraging” said Pontus.
All in all, the 2018 edition of Rally Portugal includes 360 full speed kilometers, divided into 20 special stages.