Tidemand evens the Sweden score
Twelve months ago, Pontus Tidemand lost a WRC2 win by 14 seconds to Elfyn Evans.
A Swede’s not supposed to lose in Sweden. He didn’t let it happen again.
Instead, he demonstrated a brilliant and utterly ruthless streak to dominate the event and win 10 from 17 stages.
But it wasn’t a start-to-finish success. He was forced to give best to fellow Skoda Fabia R5 driver Ole Christian Veiby for the first three stages, but from then on it was the Pontus show. He moved more than a minute clear on Saturday and spent Sunday controlling his pace and stroking the Skoda home to pick up his first success of the season.
“It’s been a good rally,” he said. “It’s probably been the perfect rally. No trouble, no problems with the tyre, the car has worked really well. We have finished the job we started last year – I didn’t want to let that happen again.”
If Tidemand was away and clear up front, there was a fairly frantic fight for second between Veiby and M-sport new boy Teemu Suninen.
Suninen was generally the quicker of the two and had it not been for his Ford Fiesta R5 misting its screen and blinding him for 20 seconds early on Saturday, the battle wouldn’t have been quite so close. In the end, the Finn held his nerve and kept hold of the runner-up spot.
Suninen’s M-sport team-mate Eric Camilli was fourth with Englishman Gus Greensmith taking a credible fifth place on his first time in a Fiesta R5 on snow and his first time with new co-driver Craig Parry.
Greensmith found a middle-of-theroad rhythm and stuck to it, his only drama being a half-minute penalty for a late check-in.
“It’s been good,” Greensmith said. “There’s more to come, but I’m really pleased with the pace I’ve shown on my first rally in the snow.”
Greensmith’s pace was ever more merit-worthy considering he’d only tested for a day – and that was a day in a Subaru Impreza.
Louise Cook was another Brit in a Fiesta, but hers was an R2-spec car and, given she was the only WRC3 competitor, was a pretty safe bet for a class win. That was before she rolled on day one and was forced out when scrutineers found replacement seat brackets for the ones bent in the shunt weren’t homologated.
Still she showed great commitment over Colin’s Crest when the bonnet flew up with the car at an altitude of about three feet.