Emotions ran high as Gil Freitas with navigator Duarte Miranda won the Rally Madeira Legend 2023 after two days of intense competition, spectacles and crowds on the road this weekend on the 27th and 28th October.
The second stage of the rally was completely dominated by the Gil Freitas/Duarte Miranda duo who won all five of the day’s stages, with their competitive Subaru Impreza S14 WRC, earning first place overall as well as the Spirit category. During the two days of competition, Gil Freitas, despite ongoing clutch problems in his Japanese car, was able to go on and clinch the motor racing event, making it his first win of an event since 2017.
Back on the road in the car with which he was Portuguese National Champion in 2010, Bernardo Sousa finished the Club Sports da Madeira event in second place. The driver navigated by Vítor Calado had a lot of trouble getting the somewhat problematic Ford Fiesta S2000 to the finish. The third step on the podium was taken by continental duo Manuel Martins/Pedro Fernandes, who made their debut in a Peugeot 206 S1600 for the first time on Madeira’s roads.
In the company of Roberto Fernandes, the same “rusty” Rui Conceição took the Ford Escort RS Cosworth to 4th place in the final, ahead of José Jarimba/João Jardim who, in their Toyota Starlet, finished in the Top 5 and overall and won the Open Legend category.
6th place went to the winners of the 2021 Madeira Legend Rally Miguel Andrade / Bruno Gouveia. The duo in the Renault 5 GT-Turbo had a race that was not without problems with the French car.
Back on the road after a three-year absence, Rui Nunes, navigated by another returnee, Luís Vieira, won the Historic category with his usual Ford Escort RS MkII. After topping the rally podium and leading the Open Legend, Roberto Martins/Marco Marote took the Renault Clio F2000, a car with the silhouette of the Clio S1600 but with the mechanics of the Megane Kit-car, to 8th place and 2nd in the Open Legend.
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Mário Ramos and Ricardo Pontes drove the Toyota Corolla GTi 16v to 9th place in the final and 2nd in the Historic class. The top ten was completed by Ângelo Escórcio/Nuno Mendonça in a Citroën C2 S1600, the car in which Dani Sordo has taken part in several World Rally Championship events.
The only UK entrant, Stewart Bowes from Middlesbrough, entered his Audi Sport Quattro S1 EVO 2 – a replica from the nostalgic 80s era that took him five years to build – in the Legend Show class. Stewart was able to complete the first day of the rally before a suspected cracked fly wheel stopped him and co-driver Luis Boica from progressing. This is his third entry to the rally, having competed in all three editions.
The event organised by Club Sports Madeira had the Legend Show category, where only three teams made it to the end: António Pinto dos Santos/Carlos Mateus with the “world-class” Renault 5 GTL, Olivier Hermans/Marc Hermans with one of the symbols of the former GDR, the Trabant P800 RS, which received many smiles and applause from the fans who took to the road, and Paolo Diana/Francesco Fresu, who put on quite a show with the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and who promise to be there next year with their Fiat 131 Abarth.
On the final day The Madeira Legend Rally finished with a traditional Slalom on the avenue of the sea, reminiscent of the old days of the Madeira Island Tour.
Gil Freitas, Winner/1st Spirit: “We’ve been saving the clutch all day, we always started very carefully, because we were already afraid that it would give way at any moment, it went well, we got here well and we even won all the sections of the day so it was a complete success. Madeira is very well known for its motor racing, the organisation was very good and we’re very happy with this victory.”
Bernardo Sousa 2nd overall/2nd Spirit: “The balance is positive, we finished as we started with a few minor setbacks. It was a very fun rally, with lots of people on the road, and above all it’s good to return with this car to Madeira, to feel at home and to be cherished by the Madeirans.”
José Jarimba – 1st Open Legend: “It was a very positive weekend, considering the work we had to do, we got to the end, we gave a lot of hope. It’s a pity that the entry list wasn’t what we’d hoped for, that we didn’t bring more international or even continental drivers to give more value to the race.”
Rui Nunes – 1st Historic: “We went in a bit apprehensive, we hadn’t driven the car for almost four years. We had to adjust the car and as we evolved throughout the rally, we came to believe in what the machine could do, we pushed hard in the last part so as not to miss out on victory.”
Eduardo Jesus – Regional Secretary for Tourism and Culture: “The race was a success, everything went well with the things that are normal in competition and when you ride at high speeds accidents or breakdowns can happen. The important thing is that nobody got hurt. The competition was at a good level, the teams were very satisfied and expressed that same contentment. The Legend is a rally that has its place and is starting to be recognised abroad as we would like. We need another event at this time of year that can attract more people to Madeira and at the same time be communicated abroad. That’s why we have a number of journalists of various nationalities and we’re sending them information to make this competition known abroad. We also have people from outside Madeira who have come here just to see Legend, with a view to taking part in future editions. This dynamic is generating what we want and it will be a rally to remember. There were thousands and thousands of people cheering and cherishing the teams that are competing. It’s a way for many of these cars from the regional teams to come out of their garages and take part alongside such big names as Aghini, Stig Blomqvist or Massimo Biasion, as has happened in previous editions. It’s a privilege to get the machines out of the garage and write another page in the car’s history. There are many strong reasons to energise, cherish and support this Legend Rally.”
Paulo Fontes – Chairman of the Board of Club Sports da Madeira: “The balance is positive, the rally went well and we had a good day of motorsport here, with the Legend showing what an excellent car park Madeira has.
It will naturally be a race to keep. CS Madeira and the government are committed to keeping it going and doing much more and better.”
Andrea Aghini – Guest Driver: “It’s a very beautiful event, I kept remembering the past throughout the rally. A very well organised rally with a fantastic and very warm crowd. I hope to return to Madeira in the future, but not to have to wait 20 years to get back here. Congratulations to the fantastic organisation and a fantastic rally.
Madeira Wine Rally
Organised by Club Sports da Madeira, the Madeira Legend Rally 2023 took place this year from 26 to 28 October 2023.
This motoring event is aimed at Historic, Spirit and Legend Show vehicles.
A new take on motoring events, the rally features vehicles that delights spectators and fans of motoring, and commemorates “Madeira Wine Rally” in the first years of its inclusion in the European Championship.