As the newcomer in the WRC, Rally Estonia offered a tough challenge for the rally elite when the world rally championship made its comeback after lockdown this weekend. Pontus Tidemand quickly found himself in a battle for the podium and that fight lasted all the way to the finish.
“It’s been good fun to be back in the WRC and to finally get to fight on this level again. But it hasn’t been easy. We were prepared for a very tough rally with fierce competition, but no matter how prepared you are, you never really know what you’re facing until you get there. I quickly felt the fact that it’s been six months since the last event in a car like this at a rally like this” said Pontus.
With a compressed schedule over three competitive days instead of four, Rally Estonia kicked off with a short opening stage on Friday evening. Pontus and his co-driver Patrik Barth had a good start and set a second fastest time, just 0,2 seconds from the lead. But the big task didn’t begin until Saturday when the longer stages would be mastered for the first time. At first, the Swedish duo struggled to find the rhythm, but stage by stage they got a better feeling and set more solid times.
“We constantly improved and found a pace that worked for us and actually felt better than what our times showed. But it’s difficult to get into it and keep that feeling when the stages are new and also change so much from morning to afternoon” explained Pontus.
When the final stages started on Sunday, Pontus had the podium within reach with only 12.9 seconds to third place. The plan was to attack from start, which took a quick turn as they got turbo issues already in the morning. Despite losing time, they tried to keep up as well as they could – something that paid off as Russian Nikolay Gryazin got into trouble on the very last stage. Pontus and Patrik passed him by on the leaderboard and took third place.
“To finish on the podium is always the main goal but this time it didn’t feel like we would make it. At the same time you know that you should never give up and continue fighting because anything can happen. It was a bummer that we couldn’t push like we wanted to today but I still have to be happy with the weekend. Considering how little we’ve been driving over the past months, I feel like we did what we could with what we had. I’m pleased that we score points for the team, that was important for the season” said Pontus.