South Racing’s Portuguese driver Ricardo Porém increased his lead in the 2017 Portuguese National Championship of Cross-Country Rallies (CNTT) by taking an impressive victory in Baja TT Idanha-A-Nova, the fourth round of the series, which finished in the Castelo Branco region on Saturday.
The Ford Ranger driver and navigator Hugo Magalhães led after the two runs through the Prologue stage on Friday evening before slipping behind early leader João Ramos on the first of the two longer selective sections through remote Portuguese rural terrain after collecting a puncture.
Porém had already finished second in Baja de Loulé and won Baja Capital Dos Vinhos de Portugal this season to add to a retirement at Baja do Pinhal. He arrived in Idanha-A-Nova leading the series by 11 points from Alejandro Martins and has now extended that advantage heading to the next round at Baja Portalegre 500 at the end of October after setting the fastest time on the last stage where Ramos suffered mechanical problems and retired.
“This is a good result for Ricardo, winning the Prologue yesterday and then finishing second on the stage this morning after having a puncture,” said South Racing’s managing director Scott Abraham. “He fought back hard. We are a little fortunate to walk away from Idanha by extending our lead in the championship. Unfortunately for our title rivals, Alejandro Martins and João Ramos, they both had mechanical failures and this puts us in a good position for the championship moving on to Portalegre. There we know Ricardo is very strong.
“This also brings an end to seven weeks of back-to-back racing with the team racing in South America and Europe. I extend a big thank you to everyone for all their efforts over this hectic period of time. We now move on to the penultimate round of the Polish Championship and Morocco at the start of October.”
Action got underway with two runs through a Prologue stage of 6.81km and Porém was the man in form from the outset in his Ford Ranger. He carded a time of 5min 21.92sec to snatch a lead of 1.32 seconds over João Ramos, with Alejandro Martins, Alexandre Franco and Paulo Fereira rounding off the top five on run one.
The South Racing driver was slightly quicker on his second run as well and that enabled him to extend his overnight lead over Ramos to 1.54 seconds.
The bulk of the competitive action took place on Saturday (September 9) and used two selective sections of 141.80km from Idanha to Idanha via Rosmaninhal and a longer stage of 188.85km, starting and finishing in Idanha and running through Penamacor.
Ramos was 50 seconds quicker than Porém through the first passage control, after 68.14km, and his Portuguese rival completed the stage in 1hr 46min 44sec. That was 3min 11sec faster than Porém, who punctured, and Ramos duly snatched the outright lead. Fereira slotted into a distant third.
Porém set the pace on the second selective section and headed Ramos by 1min 27sec through the checkpoint after 50.79km and extended that lead to 3min 49sec through 92.50km to snatch the virtual rally lead after Ramos stopped. The South Racing driver’s advantage was 9min 10sec over Franco heading to the last of the checkpoints and that lead grew to a virtual 9min 43sec after 133.84km.
The Portuguese held on to claim the stage win and outright victory by the margin of 10min 35sec over Paulo Fereira, who overtook Franco on the final stage.