Mountain Rally in Norwegian Gol was a successful rehearsal ahead of Rally Sweden for Pontus Tidemand. In the first rally in a WRC car in a year, he won by over a minute and a half and got a good proof that the preparations are going in the right direction.
Falling snow, snow on the road and snow smoke – Mountain Rally Norway offered good training conditions on Saturday. The rally was the second event in this year’s Norwegian Rally Championship and the six special stages measured a total of nearly 80 km. Pontus and co-driver Ola Fløene came to start in Team Tätab’s Ford Fiesta WRC with their focus slightly further forward than this day. The Swedish WRC event is only a week and a half away and every full speed kilometer is important.
“Our goal was first and foremost to get practise for Rally Sweden” says Pontus. “We wanted to find the speed, the confidence and get back to the feeling of a WRC car. It’s been more than three months since our last rally and then we drove an R2 car so we definitely need to readjust to driving a car like this again.”
The day developed in great manors and Pontus thought it went better and better as the day went on. When finishing, he had scored a clean sweep of stage wins and took the victory with one minute and 36 seconds down to runner-up Mads Østberg, a time difference that many were surprised by. It’s difficult in general to compare cars unless they are exactly the same and run by the same team, but in this case the difference had an explanation: Mads ran on WRC tyres that are slightly wider than the national tyres that Pontus used, which slowed him down in comparison. The positions weren’t significant to any of them though – Rally Sweden will be the true test of strength.
“Of course it’s fun to win, that’s what you’re always looking for when competing, but our biggest win this weekend is that we got the practise we were after. We ran our own race, just like Mads did, and I hope this will benefit both of us in Rally Sweden” says Pontus.
The next event for Pontus is, as mentioned, Rally Sweden (5-8 February), where he will drive a Ford Fiesta RS WRC for M-Sport, and before that awaits the official pre event test.
Photo: Benjamin A. Ward