Tidemand ready for takeoff at Rally Finland

Pontus Tidemand continues his most hectic season so far with another WRC event. He feels on top of his game after his second place in Poland last month and now it is time for one of the highlights of the season and the ultimate speed test – Rally Finland.

Rally Finland is Pontus and co-driver Emil Axelsson’s third WRC start for ŠKODA Motorsport and also their third event with the Fabia R5, which is ŠKODA’s big news for the year. The previous rallies has gone really well for Pontus, who has been on the podium both in Portugal and Poland.

“We have primarily been focused on taking the car to the finish in the first events. It has worked very well and the team has done a fantastic job at the same time as we have had fun out on the stages. Maybe that is the recipe for success” said Pontus with a smile.

The theme of the summer is speed, both event wise and literally. After Pontus and Emil’s victory in the third round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in Australia in mid June, it was full speed towards Rally Poland, a rally that offered the highest speed so far in this year’s WRC. Now it is time to continue on the same path in Finland.

“With some great rallies behind, I feel good about taking on the next challenge and definitely hope for an extra fun weekend” said Pontus. “Finland is a demanding rally and the combination of high speed and difficult passages comes with many risks to ruin the event for you. But we always aim to improve our previous result and we have worked hard on our preparations, not least to make sure the pacenotes are as perfect as possible. The margins are small here and many drivers will be fast, perhaps mainly the Finns, who wants to shine on home soil.”

Rally Finland is often referred to as the fastest rally in the WRC calendar with its smooth gravel roads through forests, along lakes and with huge jumps and crests. Unlike Poland’s flowing and rhythmic stages, the Finnish roads contains more technical sections like narrow corners and blind crests that demands full concentration from the drivers as well as flawless pacenotes.

New for 2015 is that the opening spectator stage takes place in Jyväskylä, where also the service park is located and which certainly will turn into a Mecca for rally fans during the weekend. Friday is the longest day of the rally with nine stages, including the return of the legendary Ouninpohja, and just like in Poland there is no service break during the day. Saturday’s eight stages includes classic tests like Mökkiperä and Jukojärvi, while Sunday offers one last demanding 15 km stage that will run twice. Nearly 320 km special stages will be completed before the crews reach the finish line.

Despite the fact that Pontus has only participated in three of the seven WRC rounds so far this season (of which the last two for ŠKODA), he is sixth in the overall WRC 2 standings – just 24 points behind Jari Ketomaa, who currently has the lead of the championship. Ketomaa will unfortunately miss out on his home event due to an eye injury, but there is still enough competition to fear. Approximately 25 WRC 2 has entered and besides the tough competition from ŠKODA and EVEN Management colleague Esapekka Lappi, Pontus will also battle against drivers like the quick Estonian Karl Kruuda, last year’s Junior WRC champion Stéphane Lefebvre from France, Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen and countryman Fredrik Åhlin.