The absence of Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin at this weekend’s Rally Turkey has given Pontus Tidemand a golden opportunity to shine, as he steps into the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for the first time since Rally Sweden.

While the Welshman recovers from a back injury, Tidemand – the 2017 WRC2 champion – will drive the works EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC in his place, on the hottest and roughest round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

Co-driven by experienced Norwegian navigator Ola Fløene, the Swedish driver did Rally Turkey last year – so knows what to expect, and what’s expected of him, as he uses the event to gain more top-tier WRC competition experience.

To best prepare for this demanding rally, M-Sport completed a two-day test on rough gravel, and additional protection and cooling have been added to the car to safeguard against the unforgiving terrain, slow average speeds and blistering heat.

Finnish duo Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen will drive the other M-Sport Fiesta WRC.

“It feels great to be back in a world rally car and the Ford Fiesta WRC is by far the most amazing car I have ever driven,” said Tidemand. “We completed two days of rough gravel testing with the team last week, and I feel in a pretty good position ahead of this challenging event.

“The heat will definitely take its toll – on the engines, the tyres and the crews! The extremely rough roads are also the toughest of the season and I know from last year that big rocks in the middle of the road can be devastating! My main goal is to have a really solid rally. For me, that means being able to get the most out of this fantastic car while showing good progress and development throughout the event.”

Tidemand will also drive the Fiesta WRC at Wales Rally GB, teaming up with both Evans and Suninen.

“It's such a positive boost to know that I have another rally waiting, especially this close after Turkey,” added Tidemand. “It’s important to have a bigger plan and I really want to show my progress and that I belong here in the FIA World Rally Championship.

“I'm really grateful towards M-Sport and my local partners for making this happen. Wales Rally GB is an event that I like a lot – and the roads remind me of those we have back home in Sweden. I also have great memories from previous years in Wales – where I finished on the podium all three times that I competed in the WRC 2 category. This time it will be an even bigger challenge, but I'm excited to see what I can do.”

Pontus Tidemand/Ola Fløene, Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin and Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen all wear STILO WRC DES ZERO 8860 helmets.

Pontus Tidemand/Ola Fløene, Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin and Teemu Suninen/Jarmo Lehtinen M-Sport, FIA World Rally Championship, Turkey