M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver Pontus Tidemand is gearing up for a big push at his home Rally Sweden this week (14 – 17 February) as he battles to secure his WRC future.
The 28-year-old has just two WRC rounds confirmed this year, and after joining the British squad at Rallye Monte-Carlo he is out to impress on his second appearance in a Ford Fiesta.
The 2017 WRC 2 champion is the only local driver on this year's Sweden entry list with a new-generation World Rally Car. After a 20th place finish in Monte-Carlo, and the status of M-Sport's third car undecided from Rally Guanajuato México onwards, he is eager to show he deserves more outings.
"Rally Sweden is the highlight of my year – the big one that I always look forward to and I feel one hundred percent ready to take on the challenge of my home event," Tidemand said.
“I'm starting to feel very comfortable with the car and I already feel at home in the team. When we came to Monte-Carlo last month, more or less everything was new and it was all about learning.
"It was an extremely important experience for both me and [my co-driver] Ola [Fløene] and it gave us a chance to get used to it all.
“I've said all along that Rally Sweden is where I want to be competitive and on top performance. This is my home event, I know it very well and I have a great feeling about it this year.
"It will still be very demanding and challenging, and we will have to step up our game and quickly find a good rhythm that we can hopefully keep throughout the weekend."
Tidemand will again line up alongside team-mates Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen in Sweden and team boss Richard Millener, was keen to play down expectations.
"Pontus is the local hero who grew up on these roads," he said. "It’s important not to put too much pressure on his shoulders as this is still only his second event with a new-generation World Rally Car.
"But we know his potential and he has already learned a lot so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some good times from him."