Baja Portalegre 2022: João Ferreira wins Baja Portalegre 500 and makes history

Baja Portalegre 2022: João Ferreira wins Baja Portalegre 500 and makes history

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Know more about the municipalities where the race took place:   PortalegrePonte de SorNisaAbrantesAlter do Chão

To be remembered. Baja Portalegre 500 had emotion and uncertainty until the final kilometres, with João Ferreira (23 years old) becoming the youngest ever winner of the Portuguese classic and a FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas event.

It was Portalegre being Portalegre: emotion and uncertainty until the last metre, until the last drop of sweat and tears. Because the true spirit of the Baja Portalegre 500 goes far beyond winners and losers. It is a microcosm of emotions, made up of the passion of the fans - in their thousands, as always - and the overcoming of the participants, men and women from different generations and backgrounds.

Shortly before, in the Service Park, an SSV driver from Saudi Arabia was already enjoying her debut in Portalegre: "I am loving it! There is a lot of public and here we have several SSV in competition. It seems that this is already part of the culture!", said Mashael Alobaidan, who hopes to be an example for female drivers in her country.

Over 35 years, the Portalegre’s appeal has attracted big names in the motorsport world, on two and four wheels: from Colin McRae to Carlos Sainz, from Stéphane Peterhansel to Ari Vatanen, from Thierry Magnaldi to Richard Sainct, among many others. This year, the Portuguese drivers took the lead and produced new stories, within history. Besides the shortest margin of victory ever in the Baja Portalegre 500, in bikes (read more below), the car race was marked by the victory of the national and European champion João Ferreira who, at the age of 23, became the youngest winner ever of an event of the FIA Bajas World Cup.

The last day of the race started with Yazeed Al-Rajhi reinforcing the lead he already had from the previous day, with the Toyota driver being the fastest in the 204.66 kilometres of SS3. However, João Ferreira was only 4.3s behind the Saudi and kept the pressure on for the fourth and decisive SS. There, heavy rain - with periods of hail - completely changed the profile of the competition. The SSV of the T3 category started to impose the pace and Armindo Araújo became the fastest driver, before a crash left the seven-time Portuguese rally champion out of action. João Dias, the national champion of the category, then became the most serious candidate to the victory - which would be the first of a T3 in the World Cup -, but João Ferreira made a remarkable final step and cancelled the time lost to the Can-Am driver. The young driver from Leiria, navigated by David Monteiro, closes the season with a memorable victory in the ACP race.

"It's an incredible feeling, I can't believe I've managed to win. After the accident we had last week, I didn't believe I could win the race, or that I would be able to keep up with the fastest ones. It was a struggle from the first kilometre, but I am very satisfied. The season was good (in fact, only one victory didn't make the championship) and I want to thank all those who supported us, especially our parents, ARC and X-Raid", said the MINI driver, who then explained the secret of his victory in Portalegre: "The last sector was particularly difficult, because of the rain, which made the surface very treacherous. In the creeks we had some scares, because the car would get stuck crossing the water and that was when João Dias would gain time. Then, in the final part, as it was drier, it was possible to attack. To finish like this is like ‘putting the cherry on top of the cake’", said the young national and European champion.


After 447.62 timed kilometres, João Dias and João Miranda were 21.7s behind the MINI duo, demonstrating the effectiveness of the T3, which are lighter but have a lower top speed than the T1. "The result was spectacular and João Ferreira deserved the victory, I congratulate him. I did what I could. At 60km from the end I knew I was in the lead, but then, as the track had many straights until the end, the handicap of our car, which is limited to 135km/h of top speed, did not allow us to fight on equal terms. Still, I'm happy with the result," pointed out the Can-Am driver.

Yazeed Al-Rajhi was out of the fight for the victory in SS4, with steering problems in his Toyota Hilux T1+, making way for Luís Portela de Morais' podium, with the T3 navigated by Tomás Dantas. Tiago Reis and Valter Cardoso also had a troubled day this Saturday, but the Toyota Hilux duo took the fourth place, ahead of Cristiano de Sousa and Fausto Mota’s Can-Am, which completed the first five.

In the National Event, Filipe Cameirinha and José Marques won, driving a Can-Am, in front of the surprising Sérgio Matos (navigated by Sebastião Dominguez), who took the Mercedes pick-up to the second place, only in his second TT competition.

Results - Baja Portalegre 500
1º João Ferreira / David Monteiro (MINI), 5h43m56,6s
2º João Dias / João Miranda (Can Am), a 21,7s
3º Luís Portela de Morais/Tomás Neves (OT3 OT3), a 4m26,6s
4º Tiago Reis/Valter Cardoso (Toyota), a 14m30,9
5º Cristiano Batista/Fausto Mota (BRP Can Am Maverick), a16m29,4s

Source: ACP Motorsport / Baja Portalegre 500
Photos: Rally-Raid Network /

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