TRIUMPHANT: Pontus Tidemand in action.
TRIUMPHANT: Pontus Tidemand in action. JEREMY ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY

Young Swede reigns supreme in rollicking Qld rally

MOTORSPORT: Swedish young gun Pontus Tidemand has reigned supreme in the third round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in Imbil, but he won't have long to dwell on the success.

Having cemented his lead in the APRC after staving off MRF Skoda teammate Gaurav Gill, who was forced to retire, Tidemand's attention will quickly shift to the other side of the world as he prepares for his WRC2 assault on the 72nd Rally Poland.

"It was a shame that he (Gill) retired, it was a good battle," Tidemand said after his win yesterday.

"It's more fun if it's a fight all the way.

"It was a little bit tricky because it was ... still wet and muddy in places and quite tricky."

Tidemand said the speed of the Imbil course had suited him well, as he chased down and overtook Gill during yesterday's stages.

The Swede with rich rallying bloodlines said he would head back to Poland this week for testing, before lining up in Rally Poland in a fortnight's time.

But he said it was bittersweet to be leaving the Coast.

"It's been really fantastic, I actually want to stay here longer," the 24-year-old said.

"It's definitely a place I want to come back in the future."

Gill suffered a heartbreaking retirement barely 30 kilometres from the finish.

TIDEMAND and co-driver Emil Axelsson finished four minutes ahead of the New Zealand crew of Mike Young and Malcolm Read (Subaru), with Subhan Aksa of Indonesia and Italian co-driver Nicola Arena (Mitsubishi) third.

It was Tidemand's second win from three rounds of the six-round FIA APRC and it extended his lead in the drivers' standings and wrapped up the Pacific Cup competition.

He has 108 points in the championship to Gill's 74, with rounds still to run in Malaysia, Japan and China.

Tidemand and Gill, both driving for the Indian-owned team, battled it out through Saturday's 10 stages, winning five apiece but with Gill leading overnight by just 4.6 seconds. The multiple Indian champion resumed confidently yesterday morning, winning the first of eight stages, but dropped half a minute and the lead to Tidemand over the next four tests in the Imbil State Forest in the Mary Valley.

Nevertheless, second place on the podium appeared to be assured until the engine failed at the 16th stage.

Eli Evans and Glenn Weston finished fourth and first Australians in a Citroen DS3 and simultaneously won the third round of the ECB Australian Rally Championship by almost seven minutes form Adrian Coppin and Erin Kelly in another Citroen.


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