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Baja Portalegre: Miguel Barbosa claims first blood.

By the end of the first 5,052 kilometres, Portuguese duo Miguel Barbosa and Miguel Ramalho was the fastest, setting a time of 4m49,50s, claiming first blood in the 23rd edition of the Baja BP Ultimate Portalegre 500. The BMW X3 CC driver went fast and furious to let Filipe Campos, reigning champion and overall 2009 championship leader, 1,1s behind, as Tonnie van Deijne finished third. “Everything was OK for us and we set a pretty good pace. The road was a bit slippery and the stage was technically demanding but so far so good”. Barbosa is ranked 4th in the Portuguese championship, trailing 11 points.
As Barbosa, Campos was also in a good mood when he stopped for first impressions: “In my entire career I never managed do get good Prologue results, so being second when I was aiming to finish in the Top 3 is quite good. The stage was indeed slippery mas no problems to report”. Holland’s van Deijne came third – “at times I thought I was in a WRC stage!” –, ahead of Russian Boris Gadasin, FIA Baja Internacional Cup leader, but within reach: difference of 0,8s. Closing Top 5, Pedro Grancha took more 11,3s than the quickest to finish the Prologue.
As drivers were getting to the finish lines, news and problems were revealed. For Bernardo Moniz da Maia (6th), the Portuguese overall championship runner up was happy not losing that much time to Miguel Barbosa, as this afternoon will start the real race to the championship. “I don’t want to do crazy things, so I’ll not go flat out but instead pick up the pace as I go”. 10th this morning, Hélder Oliveira was happy transmission problems were a thing of the past, aiming for a podium finish: “After Transibérico, where I came second, I think I can seriously think of finishing here in Top 3”.
Rui Sousa (13º) is back to his Isuzu D-Max Proto, but not everything went according to plans: “300 meters from the finish line the engine just stopped and I lost a few seconds until everything was back on tracks. So tomorrow I might loose sometime due to the dust”.
Last but not least, local hero and T2 Champion Nuno Matos had a good morning: “For me it’s amazing to race in my hometown. I’ll push hard to try and win here but we’ll see how things go”.
Mário Patrão faster on two wheels
Off Road Portuguese Champion Mário Patrão had a good run in the Prologue, setting fastest time (4m45,77s) ahead of Paulo Gonçalves (+1,65s), as António Maio, winner in 2007 and 2008, was only 8th. “It was important to have a good Prologue to avoid dust problems tomorrow. My goal is to win as my Championship is over and I have absolutely no pressure”.
As for António Maio – private entry – the morning was not as good: “I fell right at the beginning and lost precious time. I therefore lost concentration and started making small mistakes as the Prologue went by. Tomorrow will be a tricky day because of the dust and I’ll be starting behind several bikers”.
Finally, David Megre and Pedro Oliveira are also battling hard for the TT1 championship. For Off Road European runner up Megre, “I never took a chance to go as fast I could and settle for the best I did, avoiding mistakes and problems with the braking”. As far as Oliveira is concern, today was a regular day. “I broke my wrist sometime ago and so I went easy to avoid problems. In order to win the championship all I have to do is finish close to David, so pressure is on his side”.

2009/10/31 01:38 CET | Szerző: MR/ACP/Kónya Rita

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