WINE CAPITAL OF PORTUGAL 2020: THE WINE WAS PORTUGUESE, BUT THE ONES WHO DRANK IT WERE BRAZILIANS.

WINE CAPITAL OF PORTUGAL 2020: THE WINE WAS PORTUGUESE, BUT THE ONES WHO DRANK IT WERE BRAZILIANS.

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Just one week after Baja TT do Pinhal, the Portuguese racing drivers had another appointment, this time in Reguengos de Monsaraz, for the Baja TT Capital dos Vinhos de Portugal.   This race was completely different from the first one, starting with the scenery and terrain, much flatter and faster in Alentejo that the one found in the Castelo Branco's region.  The roads used are also much faster in Alentejo, allowing for the engines to take control of the situation instead of the brakes and gearboxes.  But a more open area, straighter and flatter roads doesn't mean that things were easier since the short amounts of rain that had fallen in the region did very little to reduce the thick orange dust that was raised from the ground each time a participant passed.  Hopefully, the wind helped to push the dust away and clear the road on most occasions.

After all the caution and calculations of Baja do Pinhal where most were trying to avoid "unscheduled fast disassembly" of their cars or any other misfortune, it was expected that in Baja TT "Wine Capital of Portugal" most of the teams could finally put the pedal to the metal and let the horses of the engines run free.  And in fact, this happened. What no one was expecting was that an imported breed of these "horses" could come and spoil the fun of the Portuguese teams.   From Brazil, the Brothers Baumgart - Cristian and Marcos went to Reguengos de Monsaraz to test their new pair of Overdrive Toyotas.  They are both part of the X-Rally Team, that usually races NWM Ford Rangers and scored multiple victories in their home country, along with some very good results in South Africa where they come once and a while to race in SACCS events.   This means that the Brazilians are no strange to racing at the highest level.
For the Brazilians, the Portuguese race was to be a test in real conditions, to acclimatize themselves to their brand new Hiluxes and to ask for changes or improvements regarding the upcoming Rally dos Sertões, where they expect to fight for the victory with these cars.  Also, they were never in Reguengos before, so also the knowledge of the terrain was limited.

The fierce Portuguese Armada didn't get impressed with the shiny new Toyotas the Brazilians got, as there were several top cars present, like the Hiluxes from Ramos, Barbosa or Ferreira, the Mini of Alejandro Martins, the Fial Fullback of Nuno Matos, the NWM Ford Ranger of Helder Oliveira (similar to the ones the Baumgart family races in Brazil) and this just to name a few of the most well know since there are a lot of fast cars in this Championship that are locally built and aren't seen anywhere else.

The Covid-19 virus caused also several changes in the layout of the race, and the organizers had to draw the stages all inside the municipality of Reguengos de Monsaraz, with shorter stages than usual and with all categories passing in sequence twice in each sector, something that isn't common in Portugal.   All of this put together, mixed very well and we got a race full of competition and with an unexpected ending with the Brazilians finishing first.

For the first day of racing the participants had a double run over an 83km stage, with each round made after the motos, quads, and a horde of SSVs.  Without any surprise, the first leader of the race was Alejandro Martins, together with Jose Marques on their X-Raid Mini.  In second place, just 6 seconds behind was a surprisingly fast Cristian Baumgart on his new Toyota.  Helder Oliveira finished SS1 in third, just one second behind Baumgart.  Barbosa (Toyota) was 4th, Tiago Reis (Racing Lancer) 5th, Alexandre Fraco (BMW EVO) 6th, and the other "Brazilian Toyota" driven by Marcos Baumgart was in 7th.   As for João Ramos, he had a bit of an adventure on this opening stage with a spectacular accident, but despite the damage and a puncture, was not out of the race and was able to continue, finishing the stage in 12th.

Alejandro Martins / José Marques - 2nd place

For the second round of the day, most of the top local drivers were already aware that the "test" of the Brazilians assumed another new dimension and was now a fight for the victory. And on the Brazilian side, the smell of champagne of the podium was becoming more intense and they started to get more excited.
At the end of the second stage, all the Portuguese could see was the tail lights of Cristian's Toyota, that won the stage after an intense fight with Miguel Barbosa in second (Toyota),  Alejandro Martins in third (Mini), and João Ramos in forth (Toyota) who rejoined the fun for the SS2.  Helder Oliveira finished 5th with his Ford Ranger NWM.    And in sixth came the Can-Am of Alexandre and Pedro Ré, once again in the middle of the "big ones" and faster than most.

By the end of the first day, the distances between teams were very short, with an advantage for Cristian Baumgart, 32 seconds in front of Alejandro Martins (Mini)  who on his side had only a tiny second of advantage over Miguel Barbosa (Toyota).  Helder Oliveira was now fourth, 1m03s behind the leader, while in fifth was Marcos Baumgart, the second Brazilian 3m24 behind his brother.

The second and final day was to be lived at "rocket launch" pace, with the teams flying over a dusty track on another double run, this time on a 62,7km stage.  After the race, some teams mentioned the dust as a factor for their results, has it didn't let them come close enough to the car in front and overtake in safety.   With these conditions, the car in front always has the advantage of a clear road ahead.   Also, a factor in the second day was the "mathematics" for the Portuguese championship that worked here and there as a brake for some drivers who preferred to secure points instead of risking it all in pursuit of a better result.

On the first stage of the day was Helder Oliveria (Ford Ranger) who made the honors and scored the victory, leaving him at only 11 seconds away from the overall lead.  Miguel Barbosa finished second only 19 seconds slower and Alejandro Martins finished 3rd 41seconds after the winner.   Marcos Baumgart was now the fastest Brazilian finishing fourth ahead of João Ramos in fifth. And Cristian was now finally experiencing what was to be slower than the top Portuguese drivers, finishing only sixth.   
Before the final SS4, the provisional overall podium was made only by local teams, with Miguel Barbosa on the first spot, Helder Oliveira in second 11 seconds behind, and Alejandro Martins in third just 21 away from the lead.  

Marcos Baumgart / Kleber Cincea - 3rd Place

For the last sector was clear that no one will spare ammunitions, the Portuguese hunting for the victory points, the Brazilians hunting for Portuguese trophies.    Around KM34 it was placed a time control, and on this point, Cristian Baumgart was already the fastest, followed from a close distance by Alejandro Martins who was trying his best to overtake the Brazilian on the road (even if he was on the lead of the race regarding their times). Third place was for Marcos Baumgart, that was now also driving faster.   While Helder Oliveira (4th) and João Ramos (5th) were still on the fight, Miguel Barbosa was already out of it, passing KM24 only 11th, 2m33s slower than the leader.
First at the end of the sector was Cristian Baumgart,  able to resist the powerful attack of Alejandro Martins (2nd).  Marcos Baumgart finished third on this final stage, 1m43s behind his teammate.

The overall victory went for Cristian Baumgart, who went to Alentejo to test an unknown car, race an unknown race, against unknown adversaries.  The Brazilian just landed in the most competitive championship of Europe, in one of the best Portuguese races, and scored an impressive victory, nevertheless, should be noted that he is no rookie at all, that we were driving the most updated car of all present and had the support of Overdrive Racing, one of the world's top racing teams.
Alejandro Martins, finished second, only 10 seconds behind the leader, after a stage where we were always "an inch" to overtake his adversary.
The third was the Marcos Baumgart, which made a more discrete race, starting slower and finishing strong.
Despite all his problems, Miguel Barbosa scored valuable championship points, finishing fourth overall.  João Ramos was not so effective, but considering his accident, the 5th place means a good recovery and also some very important points.   Pedro Dias da Silva, in a Portuguese built Ford EXR05 Proto finished sixth.

Cristian Baumgart - Winner
“It was an absurdly pleasant race, with a very interesting mix of terrains. Of course, Toyota has some differences from the Ranger that we have used and also built in recent years, but the adaptation was very smooth. We came to have that first contact with the car, but after the first specials, the competitiveness became even clearer, and then we were focused on the fight for victory ”, highlighted Cristian Baumgart, three times champion of Sertões.

Alejandro Martins - 2nd
“It was a very competitive race from beginning to end. All stages were new and it was an innovative and interesting race. In fact, it has been a long time since I saw such proof. I think it was good for everyone and I am very pleased to have participated ”said Alejandro Martins , who added:
It bothers me, however, that there are currently no rules. The pilots do not respect anything. Team leaders and organizations interpret the regulations as they wish and this regulation is poorly done. When a pilot gives a sentinel and the co-pilot does not accuse and say he didn’t see and we know he received it, it’s very ungrateful and it’s not fair. I ended up losing the race because of that, ”said the Mini driver, referring to the time lost behind the future winner, after he stopped to change a flat wheel.

Marcos Baumgart - 3rd.
“I was surprised by the quality and competitiveness of the race. The mix of floors was the way we like it, but to make a comparison between the Toyota and the Ranger we used, they are very similar, but with different characteristics in high performance; the brakes are the same, and the Toyota seemed to have more chassis balance, but the Ranger is also more resistant on trial floors and more locked places. The BFGoodrich tires fit perfectly with the car and our style, making the play even faster and more pleasurable ”, said Marcos Baumgart

The Portuguese Championship will continue with Baja Portalegre, scheduled for 6 and 7 of October.  

Images from this race can be found here:  BAJA TT CAPITAL DOS VINHOS DE PORTUGAL IMAGE GALLERY

Miguel Barbosa / Pedro Velosa - 4th place

 

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