The 24th edition of the BP Ultimate 24 Hours TT Vila de Fronteira returns to animate, from Thursday, the town of Alto Alentejo, stage of the famous European Endurance TT race. More than 112 teams have accepted the challenge of the Automobile Club of Portugal (ACP), with emphasis on the ACP pilot Miguel Oliveira, who will run the 4 Hours SSV.
The BP Ultimate 24 Hours TT Vila de Fronteira is one of the most charismatic European Off-Road Endurance races, being held since 1998 in the town of Alentejo, inhabited by about 2,000 people, but which sees its population increase exponentially during the four days of the event (from Thursday to Sunday). The appeal of the race organized by ACP attracts both amateur drivers and established names in motorsports, from two-time Rally World Champion Miki Biasion to Stéphane Peterhansel, 13-time winner of the Dakar.
The formula has become a classic: a fabulous off-road circuit 16.4 kilometers long, appropriately known as the 'Terródromo', driven by more than a hundred teams from different parts of Europe at the wheel of different types of vehicles with various levels of preparation. Between the 24 Hours 'marathons' (for prototypes, cars, and SSVs) and the 4 Hours (SSVs and buggies), more than 330 drivers from France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Latvia, and Portugal will be on the track. And tradition dictates that the rain, mud and cold scenery will be accompanied by a fantastic human frame, with thousands of fans warmed up by bonfires, conviviality and the passion for off-road racing.
Portuguese-French duel in perspective
The BP Ultimate 24 Hours TT Vila de Fronteira promises to re-enact the traditional clash of two great factions: the Portuguese teams and more than two dozen teams from the French Championship of the specialty, many of them with prototypes specifically built for Endurance races. This is the case of the A.C. Nissan Proto of Alexandre Andrade, the son of Mário Andrade, one of the unavoidable names in the history of the 24 Hours TT. Once again accompanied by the Frenchmen Cédric Duplé, Yann Morize and Florent Charvot, Alexandre Andrade will try to reinforce the team's record of eight victories in Fronteira, including the triumphs in the last three editions. From Latvia travels another chronic candidate for victory in the ACP classic, the Mitsubishi Pajero of Igor Skoks, Rüdolfs Skoks and Arvis Pikis, a trio that won the Alentejo race in 2017.
In the national peloton there are well-known names of the sport, including some national champions. This is the case of the current Portuguese and European champion, João Ferreira, who, after making history by winning the Baja Portalegre 500, will also take on the remarkable challenge of participating in the two races of the weekend. In the cars, João Ferreira will share a Nissan Navara with his father, Paulo Rui Ferreira, as well as Jorge Monteiro, Douglas Silva and his usual navigator in the MINI JCW, David Monteiro. In the 4 Hours SSV, the young driver from Leiria will have the former national champion Ricardo Porém and Luís Caetano as his partners driving a Can-Am.
Other former champions will be Tiago Reis, in a Toyota Hilux shared with Avelino Reis (father), Edgar Reis (brother) and Daniel Silva (brother-in-law), or João Ramos, whose MMP will also have Paulo Marques and Alexandre Ré at the wheel.
But the true spirit of the BP Ultimate 24 Hours TT Vila de Fronteira goes far beyond the prototypes and the great machines of the T1 grouping. Among a varied pack, also stand out the famous Peugeot 504 Pick-up entered by Joaquim Serrão, one of the most popular cars with the public of Fronteira, as well as the Renault 4L of the team led by Samuel Lima, or the Citroën AX entered by Manuel Barreto. The 'eternal' Suzuki Jimny will also be back in line with the only all-female team, formed by Carla Gameiro, Cristela Marto, Paula Marto, and Sílvia Reis.
All these teams start with different 'weapons', but the same goal: to 'survive' the hardest and most unpredictable 1440 minutes of the Rally-Raid in Portugal.
INFO: Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version
Source ACP Motorsport / 24 Hours TT
Photo: Rally-Raid Network / ImagensDesportivas.com