The speedy Swedes Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson passed the ultimate endurance test at the Rally Portugal and gave ŠKODA Motorsport their first win of the season in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC2). Despite two damaged tyres on the 368 kilometres of special stages, the works duo got an emphatic win.
ŠKODA Motorsport’s second start of the season in the WRC2 was a triumph for the ŠKODA Fabia R5: Behind Tidemand/Andersson, the customer team Nicolás Fuchs/Fernando Mussano (PE/PE) clinched a one-two result for the ŠKODA brand.
“This gravel rally in Portugal really took everything out of man and machine. Pontus Tidemand and Jonas Andersson weren’t thrown off course by the minor setbacks and showed a very strong performance in the face of fierce rivals. My congratulations go to the entire ŠKODA Motorsport team, who did a fantastic job. This is a great success for the ŠKODA brand,” said Michal Hrabánek.
Exactly one year after the ŠKODA Fabia R5 made its WRC debut at the Rally Portugal, the ŠKODA Motorsport Director was able to enjoy another spectacular success for the new rally car: “Of the top ten drivers in the WRC2, seven were in a ŠKODA Fabia R5. The Rally Portugal proved that we have developed a fast and reliable car. And our customers also benefit from this. These successes are what motivate us to keep working hard.”
This was exactly the attitude that Pontus Tidemand displayed at the Rally Portugal on the gravel tracks riddled with sharp stones. A best time on the first stage on Thursday saw the reigning Asia-Pacific champion take the lead in the WRC2. However, the 25-year-old suffered tyre damage on both Friday and Saturday, and despite lightning-fast tyre changes, temporarily lost the lead to fellow ŠKODA driver Nicolás Fuchs, but fought his way back to the top impressively with phenomenal times. Then Tidemand claimed his second win for ŠKODA Motorsport in the WRC2 in front of tens of thousands of delighted spectators on the legendary Fafe stage on Sunday. The Swede was also victorious at the Rally Spain last year.
“What a crazy rally! We are delighted with this hard-fought win after fantastic duels with our fellow ŠKODA drivers. Thanks go to the entire team, who once again gave us a great car to work with,” said Pontus Tidemand.
After second place at the home rally in Sweden in February, the fair-haired rally driver finished on the winners’ podium for the second time on his second start in the WRC2 this year.
In the overall standings for the season in the WRC2, with 43 points, Tidemand moved up into third place behind Britain’s Elfyn Evans (62), who failed to pick up points in Portugal after a crash, and Nicolás Fuchs (55). Peruvian driver won the Rally Argentina, and before that, Finland’s Teemu Suninen was victorious at the Rally Mexico – the ŠKODA Motorsport works team did not compete in either of these rallies. Including Tidemand’s triumph in Portugal, this means that each of the last three WRC2 rallies have been won in a ŠKODA Fabia R5.
The second ŠKODA works team of Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) also delivered an aggressive, strong performance in Portugal. After two damaged tyres on Friday, the experienced rally drivers restarted the rally at the weekend with the burden of a 14-minute penalty, and after a spectacular pursuit, ended up finishing in tenth place to pick up a point for the overall WRC 2 standings.
“We got the best-possible result after our misfortune with the tyres and now need to look to the future,” said Jan Kopecký.
This Friday and Saturday, the Czechs and the winning duo Tidemand/Andersson will contest the Rally Český Krumlov in the Czech Rally Championship (MČR). Then from 9th to 12th June, the Rally Sardinia is the next WRC2 task. In addition to Kopecký/Dresler, the third works duo of Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) will represent ŠKODA Motorsport.
Rally Portugal – WRC2 final standings:
- Tidemand/Andersson (S/S) ŠKODA Fabia R5 4:10:46.2 hrs.
- Fuchs/Mussano (PE/PE) ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 1:28.8 min.
- Aasen/Gulbæk (N/N) Ford Fiesta R5 + 3:19.7 min.
- Pedder/Moscatt (AUS/AUS) ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 3:19.9 min.
- Campos/Magalhães (P/P) ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 4:06.8 min.
- de Mevius/Jalet (B/B) ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 6:11.6 min.
- Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 15:36.0 min.
The number of the Rally Portugal: 16
The ŠKODA Fabia R5 was the outstanding car of the WRC2 category at the Rally Portugal. On 19 special stages, 16 best times went to the high-tech four-wheel drive from the Czech Republic. Works driver Tidemand topped the timesheet eight times. On top of this, four customers were added to the list of winners. Finland’s Teemu Suninen was number 1 five times, Nicolás Fuchs, Scott Pedder (AUS) and Ghislain de Mevius (B) each got one best time.