Miguel Barbosa wins Baja Anta da Serra 500/Portalegre
Mitsubishi driver becomes Portuguese Off Road Champion
With more than 26 minutes of advantage over his followers, it was more than natural that Miguel Barbosa would win the 17th edition of the classical Baja Anta da Serra 500/Portalegre, considering that today's S.S. had only a 15 km extension. That way, the 25 year old Mitsubishi works driver earns the very coveted Portuguese Off Road title, as his main rival and runner- up, Rui Sousa, only finished in 19th position after a disastrous performance on yesterday's stage, having to cope with mechanical failures on his official Nissan Navara and a handful of mistakes which lead him to lose over half an hour to the front runners.
For Barbosa, this is obviously a "very happy moment. This title is the result of a long term investment, and I owe it to my father". But the young driver also reckons that "altogether, it turned out to be a quite difficult season, with lots of up and downs, where luck wasn't always on our side. Even so, the team stayed united and managed always hand-over a very competitive Mitsubishi Strakar at the beginning of each race".
Keeping up a consistent but competitive pace, Luís Dias ended a natural second, despite having lost time yesterday trying to help his team-mate Rui Sousa. "This is a very fulfilling second place, just like last year. But today the Nissan Team is also sad for having lost an almost guaranteed Driver's title. But that's how unpredictable races are and Miguel won fair and square", said Dias.
After yesterday's surprising performance, Thierry Charbonnier finished off the podium in a Bowler Wildcat "that is prepared for the Dakar and not for Bajas, which makes this third place even better".
Pedro Gameiro took his Nissan Pathfinder to an easy victory in the T1 category (7th overall), while Francisco Esperto had no problems in the coming first among the Tomaz Mello Breyner Challenge entrants, a result that also gave him the victory in this monomarque trophy.
1st Miguel Barbosa (Mitsubishi), 5h31m13s; 2nd Luís Dias (Nissan), at 27m39s; 3rd Thierry Charbonnier (Bowler), at 33m01s. 7th Pedro Gameiro (Nissan), at 44m29s (1st T1); 8th Francisco Esperto, at 45m05s (1st TMB Challenge)