Valuable experience for Pontus Tidemand in Ypres Rally

To get tarmac training was the purpose of 22 year old Pontus Tidemand’s participation in Ypres Rally, which took place this weekend. When the 20 special stages were accomplished in tough conditions, Pontus ended up in tenth place in the two wheel drive category and collects the experience he was looking for and an increased confidece for tarmac driving.

Dark clouds covered Ypres as the weekend’s rally started late Friday afternoon. Six special stages in two loops of three stages each were on the schedule and raindrops had begun to fall already at the start of the first stage, which immediately made it a bigger challenge.

Pontus and co-driver Ola Fløene entered the rally with a Ford Fiesta R2, the same kind of car that they drive in Junior WRC, to get nearly 300 km tarmac driving as a preparation for the JWRC rally in Germany. To be well prepared is one of the most important things for Pontus this season, and with the support from EVEN Management and Tätab, he has the opportunity to get experience in between the events. With almost 60 competing crews in the two wheel drive category, 40 of them similar R2 cars and half of those being Ford Fiestas, the competition in Ypres Rally wasn’t easy.

Before the rally, Pontus lowered the expectations by pointing out that he sees this as a training rally and will not take any unnecessary risks to finish on the podium. But despite the hard competition, Pontus quickly showed that he belonged in the top fight and after Friday’s first three stages, he was in the lead of the two wheel drive category.

“So far everything has gone flawlessly and we’re getting good practise. It’s hard to find grip in the wet surface, but we’re having fun”, said Pontus during the service break after stage three.

Following loop didn’t go as smoothly. On stage four, Pontus and Ola caught a puncture and lost time but still managed to stay in top six after stabile driving on the two last stages of the day.

“It’s been an okay day for us”, said Pontus before the overnight break on Friday. “It started well, but we lost about 50 seconds with the puncture. But the feeling in the car is good and we’re aiming for a better day tomorrow and reaching the finish with all stages driven.”

Saturday morning offered dryer conditions, despite slightly muddy and slippery roads from the previous day’s rain. Pontus started the day with the attitude that the kilometers of training was the important thing and didn’t focus on his competition. When the first stage started, he was in sixth place but after wise driving, he advanced to fourth place after stage 14.

Towards the evening when Pontus had found the right feeling in the car and thought the driving worked better and better, punctures on both stage 18 and 19 put a stop to further climbing in the overall standings. He hoped to finish the rally with a good stage, but that chance disappeared when the last stage got cancelled due to two cars catching fire. But even if the rally didn’t end as hoped, Pontus sees the weekend as a very positive experience.

“All along I knew in the back of my head why we are here and that helped us drive our own race, somewhat under the maximum limit to not risk valuable kilometers”, he said after the end of the rally. “It’s been a very good experience to drive Ypres Rally. We’ve had both good pacenote and tarmac training in difficult and changing conditions, something I hope will come to our advantage in Germany.”

Final results 2WD GEKO Ypres Rally 2013

1. Xavier BAUGNET (BEL)
2. Timo Van der Marel (NLD) +41.4
3. Cedric de Cecco (BEL) +1:21.5
4. Matthias Boon (BEL) +2:14.9
5. Victorien Heuninck (BEL) +2:16.9
[…] 10. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) +5:48.8

Photo: André Lavadinho