Pontus Tidemand’s risk-free approach paid off as he claimed victory in WRC 2 on Sunday at Rally Italia Sardegna.
On his first ever visit to the Mediterranean isle, the Swede grabbed the lead late on Friday afternoon and was never headed as rivals hit trouble.
He steered his Skoda Fabia Rally2 through the finish of the final Sassari – Argentiera speed test 28.8sec clear of closest challenger Ole Christian Veiby to seal the win and increase his championship lead to 18 points with just two rallies remaining.
“I’m very happy. It’s not easy being the first R5 car on the road all weekend, but we had a safe strategy and followed it. This is very good for the championship,” Tidemand said.
On the contrary, Veiby’s weekend was far from drama-free. The 24-year-old was relieved to make the finish after his Hyundai i20 R5 took a pounding with three punctures and a broken damper during the rally.
Skoda man Eyvind Brynildsen was 20.9sec further back in third, whilst fellow compatriot Mads Østberg finished fourth.
Østberg, celebrating his 33rd birthday today, haemorrhaged over five minutes on Friday when his Citroën C3 R5 only had rear-wheel drive. Despite winning 10 stages, the time loss was too great to recover and he trailed the leader by 2min 08.3sec at the finish.
M-Sport Ford star Adrien Fourmaux started well but was forced to retire his Fiesta with mechanical gremlins on Saturday afternoon, whilst Russian youngster Nikolay Gryazin suffered a similar fate with his i20.