The aim was to create all the atmosphere of an international event but with less pressure, the idea was to create a stepping stone event so UK riders could experience a 3 day roadbook rally in rideable terrain and use the experience to consider more serious events as the next stage of their rallying career. The Tour of Portugal was focused on being a roadblock navigation event first and foremost and the speed was really an option. The event also ran a parallel raid as an adventure class which used a slightly easier route and navigation was by GPS.
The event format was a three day event, with a prologue on Day 1 of 40 km, which was a 40km run out to shakedown the bikes and check the navigational equipment and also to sort the the order for the next day. Everyone completed the short prologue checked the bikes or their roadbook skills except Lee Green, who managed to have a mechanical failure even before the start of the timed prologue section – it was looking like his rally was over but he was rescued with a hire bike so he could continue the event.
Day 2 was a much bigger test with a 7am start and a 214km day, through a variety of terrain which consisted of tracks around lakes and riding through Eucalyptus plantations to wide open tracks through the pine forests and spectacular views high amongst mountain tops and windmills. This was the first real navigational test as the first part of the roadblock was very intricate with the initial 60km to CP1 being a real test with a myriad of trails to lose your way on.
The rest of the riders headed to the next fuel stop which was about 300 meters before the start of the special. We saw on the GPS tracking system that Mario Patrao had visited the fuel stop and then toured around a small industrial estate stopping at a few of the buildings. We later found out he had lost the rear brake caliper off his bike and he retired from the days riding. A number of riders took a break at the fuel stop before heading into the special.
About half way into the timed section was a rock hill climb, which was accompanied by a route option if a rider could not make the climb, here riders had to be careful to read the right section of the roadbook and adjust the trip (ICO) at the top of the climb. All this was explained in detail at the briefing meeting the night before and most riders reset their ICO’s. Lee Salt (39), however, rode the correct course but failed to reset his ICO, leading him to make a navigational error at the next junction and again lose valuable minutes finding his way again. Lee’s mistake also cost him a good ranking in the event.
On day 3, we awoke to low cloud at 5am. We consulted with the team and were told this is normal in the mountains and that the mist would lift by the time the stage opened. The timed stage started just 1km from the hotel at the first offroad track – so it was straight into navigating at pace with no warm up time. The navigation was tricky and the secret checks were a bit sneaky but there were very few penalties from missing checks or from speed penalties.
The overall results for Rally Roadbook Class