The wait has been long for Pontus Tidemand, but now it’s finally time to get to business. He is back in a brand new SKODA Fabia and together with the German team Toksport WRT, he is beyond excited to take on Rally Sweden 2020. It’s his home soil, he has support from his home crowd and it’s his favorite event on the calendar.
For exactly five months, Pontus Tidemand has been eager to get back to where he belongs – behind the wheel of a rally car. His last event was at Wales Rally GB and that was with a WRC car. Now he takes a small step back to the WRC 2, the category where he was crowned champion in 2017, and now, just like then, he drives a SKODA Fabia R5.
“Everything feels very good” said Pontus. “This is a car I really like, I’m extremely familiar with it and I’ve had much success with it although I haven’t competed with this new SKODA Fabia R5 Evo until now. But I’ve been doing a lot of development tests and that has been valuable when it comes to keeping up with the improvements. To be back in the WRC 2 is nothing but positive for me right now. There are so many great drivers in the lineup and the competition is just as tough as in the WRC. I feel that we can get into the fight for real from start and the fact that Rally Sweden is my favorite event with my home crowd cheering me on makes me even more excited to do well here.”
Even though the wait for his next rally has been long, Pontus still feels fit for fight. After his first test with the new car and the new team on Monday, he is ready to throw himself back into the rally circus.
“You can’t be out of the game for too long when it comes to sports and the same rule apply to rallying. I know that some of our competitors have competed and tested more than we’ve had time to do, but at the same time I want to believe that it’s a bit like riding a bike. When you know how it’s done, it’s easier to get back into it. We had a really good first day of testing. Everything feels great with the car and the team is very professional. We have more testing planned for tomorrow and I’m hoping for a bit colder temperatures then” said Pontus, who is now accompanied by Patrik Barth in the co-driver’s seat. Last time they competed together – in 2015 – they became Swedish Rally Sprint Champions.
The mild weather has been problematic for Rally Sweden and this year’s event will run a reduced schedule with 180 kilometer special stages instead of 300. Pontus predicts an intense rally with maximum attack from start:
“The shortened version is more like a sprint rally where everyone needs to be super quick from start. The roads are fast to begin with and without snow banks, you can cut a lot and reach an incredible speed. The organizers have done an amazing job to make this happen after all and I think that the winter festival and the atmosphere will be just as fantastic as previous years. We will give it our all and fight for a good result in front of our home crowd. During these months without rallies I’ve become more motivated than ever so I will definitely switch on attack mode!
This year’s Rally Sweden will be Pontus’ tenth start here if you count his debut in 2011 when the Swedish Rally Championship was a part of Rally Sweden. And there are many encouraging results to remember from his home event – only during the past four years, he has taken three podiums, including one victory and two second places – all in the WRC 2 category.