M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson said Pontus Tidemand's performance on his World Rally Car debut in Sweden last weekend came as a total surprise. The 22-year-old Swede made the big step up from the WRC Academy, where he finished third in 2012, to drive a privately entered top-class Ford for his home rally.
Tidemand was fourth fastest in qualifying, and ran in the top four on day one of the rally before suffering an engine failure when sixth on the second leg. He had been the highest-placed Ford at one stage, ahead of the top-line Qatar M-Sport cars, leaving team boss Wilson shocked and impressed.
"Pontus surprised me," said Wilson. "He went very, very well. I didn't know too much what to expect from him before the event. Obviously he was in the Academy and getting quicker through last year, but this was very good."
Wilson believed Tidemand would have kept up his pace to the finish.
"It was a real shame for him, he was on for a great result," he said.
Tidemand is the stepson of WRC regular Henning Solberg and is managed by the same firm as Volkswagen WRC signing and two-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Andreas Mikkelsen.