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The formula has been repeated since 1998. The natural beauty of the Alto Alentejo and the 16.4 kilometers of the Fronteira Terródromo are the ideal stage for the most important off-road endurance race disputed in Europe. In its 24th edition, the BP Ultimate 24 Hours TT Vila de Fronteira was again a huge popular and sporting success, confirming the unique status of the race organized by the Automobile Club of Portugal. Large thousands of spectators provided an environment difficult to translate into words, in a village Alentejo decked out to receive more than 300 drivers from different nationalities.
In sports terms, Frenchman Laurent Poletti repeated his 2005 triumph, achieving the best combination of speed and endurance at the wheel of the MMP prototype, shared with Franck Cuisinier, Ronald Basso, and Adrien Favarel. Portuguese Marco Pereira got the second place with a Can-Am T3 category, integrated in Sébastien Guyette's Belgian team, which also included Antoine Vitse and Olivier Devos. The Reis family's Toyota Hilux also climbed the podium at Fronteira, with Avelino Reis, Tiago Reis, Edgar Reis, and Daniel Silva.
It was 1,440 minutes of fighting against the chronometer, but also against the limits of men and machines, an overcoming race that celebrates the genuine spirit of the TT for almost a quarter of a century. In competitive terms, four teams took command of the race, and once again, the competitive T3 category SSVs once again bothered the conventional French-built prototypes, specifically developed for endurance TT races.
Since 2010, a 100% Portuguese team has not climbed to the top of the podium. This year's edition was no exception, although that hope was still alive in the early stages of the race, when the Reis family, led by former national champion Tiago Reis, took command of the large field of 65 competitors, at the wheel of the Toyota Hilux.
But when the MMP X4 Turbo prototype from the team of Poletti, Cuisinier, Basso and Favarel took the lead, about halfway through the race, it became clear that only a serious problem would dethrone them from the lead, even because the big favorites, the Luso-French team led by the Andrade family, had engine problems in the AC Nissan Proto, missing the ninth victory (fourth consecutive) in Fronteira.
"It was a very good race and the car was simply perfect, without registering a single problem. Congratulations to MMP," said Laurent Poletti, who has participated 16 times in the 24 Hours TT de Fronteira. "I'm very happy with this victory, which I've been looking for for a long time. The Fronteira race is always special. The track is spectacular and very hard, and the organization is always exceptional", highlighted the French driver.
Sébastien Guyette's Can-Am took advantage of the night stage and the beginning of the morning to consolidate the second place, finishing four laps behind the winners... and with a Portuguese debutant in the spotlight. "I've never done the 24 Hours, only the 4 Hours SSV, so it's a dream result," said Marco Pereira, who was invited by Guyette to join the Belgian team. "The night was difficult for me, I had never raced at night. But during the day I enjoyed a lot, the track was spectacular, the weather was also great, so it was perfect," said Marco Pereira, who won the T3 category.
A happy family
The Reis family got the best lap of the race - in 9m46,070s, seven seconds less than the winners' best lap -, but speed isn't everything in Fronteira, and the Famalicão team finished in the last place of the podium. "It went very well, but we had some bad luck in between, unfortunately. On the sixth lap, the car started to fail after passing the creek, then we had problems with the steering box during the night. But we are happy. A podium in Fronteira is always very good, and to do it as a family is even more important. My father is the one who always drives this race, so this podium is his", dedicated Tiago Reis.
The fourth place went to another totally Portuguese team, formed by Amândio Alves, João Silva, Rogério Reis, and Márcio Reis, with another French MMP prototype. The top 5 in Fronteira was completed with the Can-Am of Jorge Cardoso, Marco Cardoso, Alexandre Cardoso, and João Oliveira.
In the Promotion C category, the victory belonged to the SEAT of Ismael Margarido, André Serrano, Filipe Galveias and Dino Canha, the same happening in Promotion A to the Suzuki Vitara of Joaquim Seiça, Paulo Soares, Luís Pedro Alves and Gonçalo Fernandes, and in Promotion B to the Citroën AX of Manuel Barreto, Rodrigo Daniel, Hugo Batista and João Paulo Oliveira.
The triumph in T2 was for the Belgians Pieter Backere, Julien Demuynck, Pieter Cracco and Steve Backere (Isuzu D-Max), while in SSV of the T4 group, the winners were Pascal Rollet, Delphine Crosse and Christophe Girard, in a Can-Am.
Carla Gameiro, Cristela Marto, Paula Marto and Sílvia Reis formed the team that won the women's trophy, in their second participation at the wheel of a Suzuky Jimny. But in the Fronteira adventure everyone is a winner, including such charismatic cars as Joaquim Serrão's Peugeot 504 Pick-up, which covered more than 850 kilometers (52 laps), or Samuel Lima's Renault 4L, which also finished the race after a hard 770 kilometers in Fronteira's Terródromo. A party of all and for all.
Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version
Source ACP Motorsport
Photos: Rally-Raid Network / ImagensDesportivas.com