Tidemand aims for Portugal hat-trick
Pontus Tidemand is looking to claim his third Vodafone Rally de Portugal victory as he heads a 17-car WRC 2 entry for this weekend’s event (17-20 May).
After his second victory of the season in Argentina, the Skoda Motorsport driver currently leads team-mate Jan Kopecký by 18 points. But with the Czech driver skipping this round, Tidemand can extend his advantage.
“Portugal was my first rally with the Fabia R5 in 2015, a year later I won there for the first time and in 2017 we were lucky to be the winners again after a dramatic last stage,” Tidemand explained.
Looking to gain from the Swede’s experience is Juuso Nordgren. The 21-year-old Finn is making his first appearance of the year for Skoda and prepared for the event with a podium at the second round of the Czech championship.
There will be strong competition for the Skoda team as Citroën Racing returns with a C3 R5 for Stéphane Lefebvre.
Lefebvre said: “The stages match my driving style, with fast roads that call for an instinctive approach. Given that I'll have to discard my result in Corsica [after crashing on SS5], I'm determined to get my campaign back on track.”
Benito Guerra will get his season underway after a fire in a pre-event test ruled him out from his first event in Mexico.
Competing on gravel for the first time this year are Toyota development drivers Takamoto Katsuta and Hiroki Arai. The pair will compete in Tommi Mäkinen Racing-prepared Ford Fiesta R5s.
Gus Greensmith, currently third in the drivers’ standings, will look to build on second in Argentina as he joins Nil Solans and Pedro Heller at the M-Sport Ford team.
Max Vatanen makes his first appearance of 2018 in a Sarrazin Motorsport Hyundai i20 R5 after a partial programme last year. Former Junior WRC champion Simone Tempestini is also returning to the championship in a Ford Fiesta.
Making his third appearance of the year is Jari Hutunen, who will be competing in a Hyundai Motorsport-entered i20.
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