Portuguese Rally-Raid Drivers form new association to represent the class

Portuguese Rally-Raid Drivers form new association to represent the class

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By the end of 2020, The "Association of Cross-Country Rally Drivers" (Associação de Pilotos de Todo o Terreno)  was born in Portugal, a long-lasting dream of many of the actual and former participants of the Portuguese championship, that finally becomes true.

The provisional leading committee is made by João Ramos, José Marques, and Nuno Madeira and they have been working to prepare the association so that it can elect its first president and the rest of the leading committee soon and draw up an action plan to start working.

This association aims to represent the interests of the drivers and their teams next to the entities responsible for off-road competition and help to improve and develop even more, what is already the best European off-road championship, assuming the commitment of having a positive position about the whole process of development of the sport'.

Rally-Raid Network was able to talk to the Installing Committee of the APTT, represented by the experienced navigator José Marques, who was kind enough to answer our questions.  Here is our set of questions and their respective answers:

First of all, what is the APTT, and who are its members?

The APTT (Cross-Country Rally Drivers Association) is an association of off-road pilots and navigators, who have a valid rally driver license issued by the FPAK (The Portuguese federation)  for the current year (full membership), or who have already had a pilot or navigator license (supplementary membership).

What are the short and long-term objectives of the APTT?

The objectives of the association are: promote, encourage and develop the practice of rally-raid and cross-country rallies in Portugal, ensure the defense of the interests of its members in the context of the competitions, and represent its members before national and international sports entities. 

Why did you feel the need to form an association with these characteristics?

The APTT was born from the need to make the voice of all CPTT participants heard, even though already exists one Cross-Country Rally Commission.

At this moment,  in what stage is the process of constitution of the association?

Our association was formally constituted at the end of last year, and promptly accepted as an FPAK associate.

How was the initiative received by the drivers and their teams?

It was very well received by the vast majority of the participants in the Portuguese championship, with a massive membership that quickly exceeded 100.

And what kind of reaction did you get from the federation?

The FPAK's reaction was very positive, very open, and a very fruitful dialogue was soon established.

You will also try to work with the organizers.  How did they welcome your association and in what ways do you plan to collaborate with them?

 On the part of the organizations, they showed good receptivity, and there was an openness on their part, in the creation of a CPTT Route Reconnaissance Team (a team made by APTT members that will validate the roadbooks ahead of the race, since a new system of delivering the roadbook just a few moments ahead of each stage will be implemented)

Have you already achieved some results?  Introduction of new rules, correction of others, creation of new initiatives?

Yes, we've already made several suggestions of changes to the CPTT regulations and most of them were accepted by the Federation.

Looking at this sport with a more comprehensive look, we see that in many countries it is more and more difficult to do rally-raid races, not to mention others where it is completely impossible due to environmental laws and protection of public and private property.  Do you feel the same problem in Portugal, and if yes, what are the plans to keep the "roads open" for racing.

Part of the suggestions made by our association, was precisely to avoid situations in which the behavior of competitors, could endanger the effort of the organizations. But there is still more work that can and will be done in regarding this issue.

We also noticed that in many places the public shows up in smaller and smaller numbers. In Portugal, this is less notorious but it is already happening. Do you have plans to make the races more interesting and "public friendly" and bring more public to the roadside to see the competitors, as this is also an important factor to get sponsorship and support for both drivers and organizations?

Several options are being studied to promote the races and the championship some of which should be implemented soon. 

The Portuguese championship races are very popular and well attended in almost all categories, and are generally recognized internationally for the high level of competition and organization.  In your opinion, to what do you owe this success?

In our opinion, we have without a doubt the best national championship in Europe, perhaps even the best and most competitive in the world. We have a very large group of the highest quality drivers and co-drivers who are recognized worldwide as some of the best (for several years Portugal was the country with the highest number of FIA priority drivers). Also, the mechanics and other staff are present in large numbers in all official teams.
This is due to the popularity of motorsports in general in Portugal. Portugal's departure from the Dakar Rally for two years has increased even more the popularity of cross-country rallies in the country, which remains until today.
The fact that we have one of the best and most competent Organizations in the world was also very important in the growth of the sport.

Following the previous question, in your action plan there are some measures to attract more foreign participants and to increase the interest and international visibility of the Portuguese championship.

The measures that will be taken for the promotion of the championship in Portugal, including the strong use of social networks, should contribute to the promotion of the championship abroad as well.

Considering that we are still in an initial phase of APTT formation and with a lot of work ahead, do you think that in the future, with the association in Portugal consolidated, it will be possible to move towards an international association that would act at the level of major competitions and FIA competitions? 

This possibility has not yet been approached by the APTT. We know that we already have some visibility in other countries and that there is interest in creating similar associations. We believe that the creation of an association of rally-raid drivers and co-driver at an Iberian or European level could be a hypothesis to take into account.



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