SWEDEN’S Pontus Tidemand was the surprise winner in the WRC 2 category at Vodafone Rally de Portugal after Andreas Mikkelsen rolled in the final stage.
Mikkelsen led from Thursday’s opening super special and began Sunday’s rally-closing Power Stage with a lead of more than three minutes over Skoda teammate Tidemand.
But the Norwegian’s world was turned upside down just one kilometre into the Fafe stage when he clipped a rock and rolled his Fabia R5 into retirement.
Tidemand passed Mikkelsen’s stricken car and fended off a last-gasp challenge from Teemu Suninen to secure the win by 11.2sec.
It was Tidemand’s fourth win from the four WRC 2 rounds he has started this season and moved him further clear at the top of the drivers’ championship.
“I feel sorry for Andreas, stopping on the last stage like this, he showed incredible speed. But okay, the win makes it a fantastic start to my season,” Tidemand said.
Ford Fiesta R5 driver Suninen slashed the gap to Tidemand by 14.1sec on the final stage, but was left regretting several small errors he felt cost him a chance of victory.
Simone Tempestini claimed third in a Citroën DS 3, almost seven minutes behind Suninen.
WRC 2 Results, Vodafone Rally Portugal:
1. Tidemand/Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) 3:54:17.6 h
2. Suninen/Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +11.2 sec.
3. Tempestini/Bernacchini (Citroen DS3 R5) +7.00.6 min.
4. Campos/Costa (Skoda Fabia R5) + 9:19.3 min.
5. Pieniazek/Mazur (Peugeot 208 T16) + 10.59.5 min.
WRC 2 Driver standings 2 after six rounds:
1. Pontus Tidemand (Skoda) 100
2. Teemu Suninen (Ford) 54
3. Eric Camilli (Ford) 52
4. Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda) 50