Report: Tour of Portugal 2016

TOP_LOGO_WatermarkRallyMoto’s first venture into running a roadbook rally abroad was a great success. The format of the event was good, our partners for the event, the hotel and the support from the Mayor and people of Pampilhosa da Serra were all fantastic.

Ready for the off – the start was out of the hotel drive

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 team had worked with Rui and Tiago from Portugal Offroad and about a year ago, the concept of RallyMoto running an event in Portugal was born.

No12 – Mark Knox out on course – 3rd Place in Rally Class

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.


Lee Salt (39) is under pressure from Dave Chislett (20)

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.

From CP1 the trails opened up a bit and the course became more flowing as the riders headed up into the mountains and pine forests. CP2 was situated in a picturesque village by a large reservoir and he riders could take a break here for a few minutes. The terrain, although not too severe, had taken it’s toll on some of the mountings for the navigation equipment with Andrew Silence (10) and Peter Marriott (25) suffering failures which made it impossible for them to navigate and continue.

Mario Patrao (45) – a top 10 Dakar finisher was on the pace early 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.

The timed section was 65km and all on the roadbook, this is where the pressure started. Dave Watson (5) on his HP2 entered the stage and immediately took a wrong turn to the left and we could see on the tracking that he was lost and loosing valuable time – he had marked up his roadbook incorrectly the night before and this probably cost him a podium placing.

Pete Marriott (No: 25) takes a break and admires the view

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.

It was clear, that riding at pace in the timed section and the roadbook navigation was testing some of the riders and the descent off the mountain into the village of Fajou was demanding, with the riders taking another break at the end of the stage. From here is was an easy course back over the mountain on the “windmill” tracks and back into the hotel and the parc ferme.

Dan Moore (16) gives the event a big thumbs up

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 total km for the day was 156kkm and with the weather improving throughout the day the riders had a great ride. On the final evening the Mayor of Pampilhosa d aSerra and Patsy Quick handed out the trophies at the Award presentation.

The winners are: 1st Chris Barwick, 2nd Dave Chislett and 3rd Mark Knox (Jonny Morris accepted Mark’s award)

The overall results for Rally Roadbook Class

1st Chris Barwick 
2nd David Chislett
3rd Mark Knox
Overall results for Adventure (GPS) Class
1st Gareth Reece
2nd Geraint Hill
3rd Jonathan Wilson
Tour of Portugal 2017 – we are already in the final stages of confirming a date for the rally for 2017 along with a few improvements and a longer course.