SKODA Motorsport’s WRC 2 champion Pontus Tidemand is ready to get back in the game. He has made it all the way to Villa Carlos Paz and gears up for start at Rally Argentina, where 360 kilometer in tough terrain will be mastered over the weekend.
Two podiums in two events – one victory at Rally Mexico and a second place at his home event Rally Sweden – has given Pontus Tidemand and his experienced co-driver Jonas Andersson a great start of the 2018 season. After the last event in the WRC series in Corsica, a rally that the Swedish duo did not participate at, they are still second in the overall championship standings with the target to climb to the top during the weekend in Argentina.
“In the WRC 2 championship, we do seven events in a year and six of them counts at the end of the season” said Pontus. “That means not every driver drive every event and the championship leaderboard changes from rally to rally, especially this early in the season. It’s tough and close battle with many skilled drivers in the championship, but of course we aim to collect maximum points here and leave Argentina with the overall lead again – then we know that we are exactly where we want to be.”
Rally Argentina offers rough terrain with gravel roads, unique in its kind. The soft sandy roads of the Santa Rosa de Calamuchita valley contrast strongly with the narrow and moon like stages of the Traslasierra mountains and one of the big challenges is to adjust and adapt the driving style to the different surfaces. The stages also cross many rivers that are likely to become wide and deep in wet weather. Another weather factor to keep in mind is that fog, and even ice, is not unusual on higher altitude if the autumn is early in the southern hemisphere.
“The sandy roads easily get rugged since they are so soft. On the second pass, you need full focus and try to stay in the lines to not get thrown off the road. At the same time the mountain stages are extremely rocky and you really need to concentrate on what you’re doing to make it through. A combination of speed, rhythm and endurance worked for us last year so we will try to find the same concept this time, but with a bit more experience from these roads” said Pontus, who made his Argentina debut last year and took a dominant victory.
Today, Monday, the crew has a test day to get to know the Argentinian roads and then await two days of reconnaissance before kicking off the rally with shakedown and the first stage on Thursday. This year, the opening stage has moved from Argentina’s second biggest city Córdoba to the streets of the hosting city of Villa Carlos Paz and a magnificent start to the weekend is expected. Over the following days, the drivers will take on the remaining 17 stages and finally reach the finish on Sunday afternoon local time.