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Racing around the clock

JOSÉ PEDRO Fontes was the big winner of the closing Portuguese Rally Championship stage, the Rally Casinos do Algarve, in Portimão and Monchique last weekend.

The destination of this year’s title was only decided after the last Alferce special stage, the Fiat driver taking advantage of twice national champion Bruno Magalhães’ puncture earlier- having subsequently dropped to 16th place, the Peugeot ace still managed second overall by late Saturday afternoon.

The previous day more than 12,000 spectators were treated to a race-opening Superspecial stage held for the first time at the recently inaugurated Algarve Motor Park. Fernando Peres took the remaining place on the podium while Jose Sousa proved too good for Vitor Torres and Mario Mendes in the Classics section- Joao Monteiro was crowned southern regional champion.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that the Le Mans Series fourth stage will be held at the Park next year. The August 2 1000km saloon car endurance race will be the only night event on the 2009 calendar and follows Germany’s Nuremburg stage one week earlier. Still this year, on December 16, 17 and 18, Formula One race fans will have the opportunity to watch Honda, Ferrari and McLaren testing at the track.

In Malaysia, Filipe Albuquerque and Team Portugal remained on track for a triumphant debut in Portimao next year by taking second place behind Ireland in the feature race of this season’s third A1GP weekend.

With only an eight-point deficit overall, the Coimbra speedster has every chance of competing for the title at the circuit’s penultimate Algarve start. Also back in the region and part of the principal World Rally Championship Calendar in 2009 will be the Rally of Portugal, which will be based around the Stadium of the Algarve between April 2 and 5.