The 2018 Rally Portugal had ups and downs for the ŠKODA factory crews. After two punctures during the Friday leg of the rally, WRC 2 Champions Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson started a race to catch up. On Saturday they stormed from fifth position into the lead of the WRC 2 category. During their first Rally Portugal, ŠKODA youngsters Juuso Nordgren/Tapio Suominen showed a significant progress, delivering numerous fast times on the special stages. Despite a “record” number of five punctures they brought the ŠKODA FABIA R5 to the finish in sixth position of the WRC 2 category.
The final leg on Sunday was running over five stages of more than 50 kilometres of fast and smooth gravel roads. The highlight for ten thousands of enthusiastic rally fans was the spectacular and famous Fafe jump. Pontus Tidemand set the fastest time on the opening stage of the day, followed by his young teammate Juuso Nordgren. Both ŠKODA crews managed to finish the rally with a fast and controlled drive. Tidemand was totally happy at the finish in Matosinhos. “After our mishap during Friday, I never lost my confidence knowing how good the ŠKODA FABIA R5 handles on these Portuguese gravel roads. It is really amazing to win here for the third time in a row,” concluded the Swede. Juuso Nordgren finished sixth in the WRC 2 category although he collected another puncture on the final day. He said: “I am disappointed about my punctures, but I learned a lot during my first Portugal Rally. I really enjoyed the final day of the rally, the fantastic atmosphere, and I cannot wait to drive the ŠKODA FABIA R5 on gravel again.”
ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek was delighted, that ŠKODA Motorsport could, at the end, achieve another victory in Portugal after a difficult start. “I am happy, that we could win up to now five out of six rounds of the 2018 WRC 2 championship. With his third victory of the season, Pontus put himself into a fantastic position to defend his title. Juuso showed his potential driving some really fast times. Congratulations also to ŠKODA privateer Lukas Pieniazek, who delivered a great performance finishing second in the WRC 2 category,” he commented.
Not as fast as the ŠKODA FABIA R5 rally cars, but with the same reliability, two ŠKODA KAROQ served as road safety cars for the rally organisers, driving the same distance of more than 1,580 kilometres in total and nearly 360 kilometres on gravel stages. ŠKODA/Siva sponsored the popular Rally Portugal and was the official car supplier for the event.
Final Result Rally Portugal (WRC 2)
1. Tidemand/Andersson (SWE/SWE), ŠKODA FABIA R5, 4:03:57.4 h
2. Pieniazek/Mazur (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +2:06.5 min
3. Lefebvre/Moreau (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 R5, +2:23.5 min
4. Loubet/Landais (FRA/FRA), Hyundai i20 R5, +3:10.5 min
5. Arai/Macneall (JPN/AUS), Ford Fiesta R5, +5:31.6
6. Nordgren/Suominen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA R5, +5.41.1 min
Current championship standings WRC 2 (after 6 of 13 rounds)
1. Tidemand (SWE), ŠKODA, 93 points
2. Kopecký (CZR) ŠKODA, 50 points
3. Greensmith (GBR), Ford, 40 points
4. Heller (CHL), Ford, 31 points
5. Katsuta (JPN), Ford, 29 points
Number of the day: 3
ŠKODA factory crew Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson for the third time in a row won the WRC 2 category at Rally Portugal, at the same time scoring their third WRC 2 win of the 2018 season.
The calendar of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2)
Great Britain 04/10/–07/10/2018