Our Finnish duo Jari and Antti set an impressive pace on the final morning of Rally de Portugal, right on the pace of the WRC2 leaders. It was an encouraging end to their third WRC2 event of the season so far, having experienced issues earlier in the weekend.
The HMDP pairing returned to the Hyundai i20 R5 following their top-six finishes in Sweden and Mexico earlier this season. Tackling a tricky 20-stage Portugal itinerary, there was plenty of action and drama right for all crews from the outset.
Jari got off to a difficult start on the first stage on Friday (SS2 Viana do Castelo), suffering a puncture. He was soon up to speed and starting to gain confidence before another tyre-related issue in SS5, the repeat of the same stage. Despite pushing through, he then endured a more terminal problem in SS6 when hitting a rock, which sent the #35 car into a ditch.
Getting back on track
Re-joining under Rally 2 on Saturday, our Finnish duo set about picking up their pace. Fourth place on the afternoon loop showed the progress they were making.
With the iconic Fafe stage looming on the final morning, it was a final chance for Jari and Antti to show their determination. Finding good pace immediately, they claimed four top-four times, including the Power Stage.
“It has been an important learning curve for me and Antti this weekend with several difficult moments, some very tough stages as well as some signs of promise,” said Jari. “We didn’t get off to the best start but we re-focused on building our confidence and aiming to finish the rally with no further issues.”
He continued: “Sunday morning showed our true potential and it was nice to be battling near the front of the WRC2 with some strong runs and good speed. I especially enjoyed the Fafe stage with an amazing crowd of spectators. It has been a hard, but rewarding weekend.”
Our Team Manager Alain Penasse added: “In a rally where so many competitors faced difficulties, it is a testament to Jari and Antti that they continued to battle no matter what issues they had. Portugal has offered another valuable experience.”
Jari and Antti will return to their i20 R5 at their home event, Rally Finland, in July.
Final Overall Classification WRC 2 – Rally de Portugal
1 P. Tidemand (Škoda Fabia R5) 4:03:57.4
2 L. Pieniazek (Škoda Fabia R5) +2:06.5
3 S. Lefebvre (Citroën C3 R5) +2:23.5
4 P. Loubet (Hyundai i20 R5) +3:10.5
5 H. Arai (Ford Fiesta R5) +5:31.6
… … … …
12 J. Huttunen (Hyundai i20 R5) +35:20.1
2018 FIA WRC 2 Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round 6
1 P. Tidemand 93
2 J. Kopecky 50
3 G. Greensmith 40
4 P. Heller 31
5 L. Pieniazek 30
6 T. Katsuta 29
7 O. Veiby 27
8 N. Solans 24
9 P. Loubet 20
10 E. Sciessere 18
11 Y. Bonato 18
12 H. Arai 18
13 J. Huttunen 16
2018 FIA WRC 2 Championship for Teams’ Standings
After round 6
1 Škoda Motorsport 93
2 Škoda Motorsport II 50
3 Tommi Mäkinen Racing 47
4 PRINTSPORT 43
5 Hyundai Motorsport 36
6 BRC Racing Team 27
All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.