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24 Hours Off-Road Fronteira 2023: Portuguese-French team wins in Fronteira with thrilling finish
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24 Hours Off-Road Fronteira 2023: Portuguese-French team wins in Fronteira with thrilling finish

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A 24-hour race decided by... less than three minutes. The Fouquet Nissan of Portuguese driver Manuel Aires, who was accompanied by Frenchmen Mickael Pisano, Jérémy Warnia and Jean-Luc Ceccaldi, won the BP Ultimate 24 Hours TT Vila de Fronteira, in one of the most exciting finishes in the 25-year history of the ACP event. Thousands of people filled the Alentejo town.

A few minutes after winning the BP Ultimate 24 Hours TT Vila de Fronteira in thrilling fashion, Mickael Pisano was banging on the hood of his Fouquet Nissan trying to control the adrenaline. "I've been going hard for three hours! I have a fantastic car and I gave everything! I'm really proud to win here in Fronteira," said the French driver. The team entered by Portuguese driver Manuel Aires, which as well as Aires and Pisano also included Frenchmen Jérémy Warnia and Jean-Luc Ceccaldi, had just moved into the lead in the penultimate of the 104 laps it did on the Terródromo, in one of the most exciting finishes ever in the Automóvel Club de Portugal race. At 23h45m, the Frenchmen Laurent Poletti, Franck Cuisinier, Ronald Basso and Adrien Favarel looked to be on their way to a second consecutive victory in Fronteira, having led for much of the race. However, the MMP team miscalculated the amount of gas needed for the final shift and Poletti had to slow down on the last two laps to ensure he made it to the finish. On a 16.4-kilometer track, this meant the decisive overtaking of Pisano, who would finish 2m37s ahead after 1,440 minutes of racing. Manuel Aires, a native of Alfândega da Fé, has been emigrating to France for 30 years and has been competing in Fronteira since 2019. "In the 24 Hours of Paris we were second, right on the limit, less than two minutes behind the first. Now it's our turn!" he said, pointing to the sky.

Behind the Aires and Cuisinier teams, the podium was completed by the Portuguese-French team of Claude Fournier, Ricardo Porém, Gustavo Moura and Gustavo Moura Jr. in an MMP that won the T4 category. The first 100 percent Portuguese team was Amândio Alves, João Silva, Márcio Reis and Rogério Reis, in another machine built by the French company MMP, in the T3 category. The top five was completed by Ricardo Soares' team, which also included João Dias, Luís Maximino and João Marques (Nissan Navara), just ahead of another Nissan in the T2 category, piloted by Henrique Lourenço, João Lourenço, Ricardo Sobral and Nuno Sousa.

A total of 64 teams managed to complete the grueling Alentejo marathon, out of the 77 competitors and more than 300 drivers who lined up at the start, from Portugal, France, Belgium, Latvia, Austria, the Netherlands and Peru.

24 horas class

Fog on Sunday morning

From the Baltic Sea to the Alto Alentejo

What makes a team of six people travel 4,500 kilometers from Latvia to compete in a 24-hour off-road race in the Alentejo? Igor Skoks and his Tempo 24H are already well-known figures at the BP Ultimate 24 Horas TT Vila de Fronteira. They travel from Ventspils, a port city on the Baltic Sea. "We've been racing in Fronteira since 2005, first with Oskar and then with this Mitsubishi prototype. We really like the organization, the challenge of the race, the people, the atmosphere that is created here in Portugal. We've also raced in the 24 Hours of France for several years, but we prefer Fronteira and in recent years we've only done this race. Our car goes by ferry from Latvia to Germany, then by trailer to Fronteira. It's over 4,500 kilometers, but we enjoy it and next year I hope to be here again!" said Igor Skoks, accompanied by his son, fellow driver Rudolfs Skoks. The team's third driver is Arvis Pikis, whose son is one of the two mechanics of the Mitsubishi Pajero with which the Latvian team won the 24 Hours of Fronteira in 2017.

Tempo Team
Tempo Team

 

It's a story that's similar to that of Pedro Ribeiro, a Portuguese immigrant in Switzerland who every year takes a week's vacation and drives 2,000 kilometers from Lausanne to experience Fronteira. These are examples that show the special nature of the Automóvel Club de Portugal race, which has completed a quarter of a century. And the event contributed to one of the biggest crowds ever in Fronteira, with many thousands of people camping out at Herdade do Monte do Cego and around the town, also attracted by the music festival promoted by the Municipality of Fronteira and headlined by Xutos & Pontapé.

Automatic translation of the original Portuguese version available on www.todoterreno.pt
Text source: ACP Motorsport
Photos: Imagens Desportivas / Rally-Raid Network

 

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