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Rally de Portugal Historico 2017 - Final Report

Published: 19 Oct 2017   updated: 23 Oct 2017


Back home now after competing in the gruelling Rally de Portugal Historico with navigator Bernard Northmore. This was the 12th running of the event, our friend Jose Segarra Marques has competed in 11 and told us it was the toughest yet. Sue and I competed in 2008 and it has certainly changed in character since then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

98 cars started, 73 finished, thankfully we were one of them. As the rally progressed it became apparent that the event had been designed for very powerful cars with support teams and sophisticated in-car rally timing equipment and that we were never going to keep to rally time. This called for a change in tactic. We reset our goal on winning the category and possibly even best placed British team. Our category consisted of only 3 cars, an Alpine Renault (driven coincidentally by the man who organised the first rally I did in Portugal, the Verde Pino Rally in 1997), us and a lovely French entered VW Beetle.  As for the Brits Andrew and Sarah Mallagh brought a 1973 Porsche 911 whilst Sue and Mark Godfrey entered a very pretty Mk1 Escort; just the 3 of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 On paper we were never on to be the best Brits but problems befell both Andrew and Mark. In fact Mark was doing really well, up in the top 20 until the clutch plate gave up.

In the category it seemed the Alpine was destined to win but he too had mechanical problems which meant we were leading the category for most of the rally with the Beetle doing a fantastic job but just didn't have enough power to get up the hills fast enough so we drew out a substantial points lead.

After a day and a half we had brake problems and were astonished to find we had completely worn away a set of front brake pads and this level of braking for hairpin bends was taking its toll on the tyres too. All the while we were competing ambient temperatures were high and engine bay temperatures even hotter. Half way through the rally the starter motor decided it would not play when hot but was fine when the temperature dropped a little so at stage starts we had to keep the car running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great friendly battle with the crew in the VW who broke their front anti roll bar but battled on. We were sure we had the category right up towards the end of the rally. At this point, on the 4th day (the rally started on Tuesday and the first car was scheduled to finish at 2:00 am Saturday morning) at 1:00am Saturday morning, we had been rallying on this leg since 8am Friday morning and the tyres were almost gone. We decided to start dropping time to conserve the car especially the tyres and brakes but the final straw came when the dynamo decided to give up. The red light came on and we continued until we couldn't see where we were going on the closed roads of Sintra as the battery became almost completely discharged. We limped to the final control and clocked in having missed the last two stages which meant we gave away enough point to the VW for them to win the category which they richly deserved.

 

 So all in all a very tough but enjoyable rally. We had to buy tyres to drive home and whilst the wheels were off I was amazed to see the second set of brake pads were worn out too! Knowing dynamos are not the most reliable of equipment, I carry a spare so I swapped to the spare whist the tyres were being changed and thankfully we had charge but we were still in trouble. We had discharged the battery so much the previous night such that the battery voltage was too low to accept a charge at dynamo or alternator output voltage of 14.4Volts so on Sunday we had to find a new battery with at least 12.5Volts so that the charging circuit would work correctly. I knew there was nothing wrong with the original battery that 48 hours on charge wouldn't fix (48 hours we didn't have as we had a ferry to catch) so it became Bernard's foot rest for the journey home. Once charged with a smart charger for 48 hours in the workshop its working fine.

 Bernard did a great job navigating us around but was hampered by the lack of sophisticated GPS in car equipment. In the end I think we were both thankful that 6VC with its sturdy works chassis survived and got us home in one piece with some great memories. Bernard's quick thinking on Saturday morning, making the decision to go straight to the final control ensured we were finishers and in so doing we were first in class - of one! Well done also to Andrew and Sarah who finished the rally best Brits.

Neil Revington

For more details on the rally as it happened and to see the video links please see the previous News Article by clicking on the link below.

www.revingtontr.com/news/2017/sep/29/portugal-rally-september-2017-live-updates

 Thanks to Rui Correia for use of his photos