After a top performance, ŠKODA works duo Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson head into the final two days of the Rally Portugal as the front-runners in the WRC 2. Not even tyre damage could stop the fast Swedes, who got a total of six best times on the eight timed special stages on Thursday and Friday.
The ŠKODA Fabia R5 is the outstanding car of the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC2) so far – of the top five drivers in the interim standings, three of them rely on ŠKODA’s high-tech four-wheel drive.
“Despite the rough track conditions with plenty of stones, it was a pleasure to drive our ŠKODA Fabia R5. We were a little bit more cautious in the afternoon after the tyre damage,” said Pontus Tidemand. “We can build on this interim result. But nothing is won yet, after all we haven’t even driven half of the timed kilometres yet.”
Pontus Tidemand and Jonas Andersson still have more than 230 kilometres ahead of them on Saturday and Sunday, into which the ŠKODA works team takes an advantage of 35.5 seconds over second-placed Nicolás Fuchs/Fernando Mussano (PE/PE). And the WRC2 winners of the Rally Argentina are also in a ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Pontus Tidemand immediately took the lead on the only special stage on Thursday evening. Then on Friday, the reigning Asia-Pacific champion showed his skills in glorious sunshine. On the longest special stage Ponte de Lima 1 (27.44 kilometres), Tidemand pulled ahead of Elfyn Evans (GB) – who is still the front-runner in the overall standings for the season in the WRC2 – by an impressive 16.1 seconds. This was followed by a further four best times on Friday, including the one on the sixth special stage despite tyre damage. Thousands of fans at the tracks were delighted by the performance of the 25-year-old Swede, who also put on a perfect show at the debut of the spectacular street stage in the centre of Porto’s old town, getting top times in the WRC2.
The second works team Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) weren’t quite as fortunate; they were in second place after the first stage of the Rally Portugal. The experienced rally drivers damaged two of their tyres on the stony gravel tracks that demanded everything from man and machine in the afternoon and were unable to contest the street stage in Porto.
“It really was a bitter day for us. We had two damaged tyres, but only one spare tyre. We will return to the rally on Saturday and Sunday and try everything to work our way back up to the top,” said Jan Kopecký.
A further ten special stages await the drivers on the final two days, including the legendary Fafe stage on Sunday. Then we will see whether Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson have another top result to celebrate after finishing second at their home rally in Sweden in February.
Rally Portugal 2016 – WRC2 standings after day 2:
- Tidemand/Andersson (S/S); ŠKODA Fabia R5 1:32:45.3 hrs.
- Fuchs/Mussano (PE/PE); ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 35.5 sec.
- Evans/Parry (GB/GB); Ford Fiesta R5 + 53.0 sec.
- Gilbert/Jamoul (F/F); Citroën DS3 R5 + 1:14.0 min.
- Ptaszek/Szczepaniak; (PL/PL); ŠKODA Fabia R5 + 1:31.7 min.
The number of the day from the Rally Portugal: 8
A ŠKODA Fabia R5 was the fastest rally car in the WRC 2 on all eight timed special stages of the Rally Portugal on Thursday and Friday. Works driver Pontus Tidemand got the best time on six stages; ŠKODA customers Nicolás Fuchs and Ghislain de Mevius (B) each got one fastest time. Nine special stages were originally scheduled for the first two days, however, after two accidents, the stage Ponte de Lima 2 was neutralized.