Caramulo is a small town in the mountains about two thirds of the way between Lisbon and Port but inland a little. The town of about 1000 inhabitants is at about 800 metres and the Serra do Caramulo rises to 1,076 metres. It is not only the starting point of the historic Caramulo Hill Climb (Rampa in Portuguese) but has an important motor museum (http://www.museu-caramulo.net/) and a very large hotel. After reading of our friend Mario’s efforts in the hill climb at Caramulo we used the “excuse” of going to watch him at the Caramulo Motorfestival and make our fourth visit to Portugal. After a little prompting from Mario I decided to enter in the regularity event with Mario’s son Duarte as my navigator.
We departed by ferry from Genoa to Barcelona on the Saturday before the event and spent an enjoyable week crossing Spain and Portugal. We spent a night greeting the new daughter of a friend at Barcellona, a night at the memorable oasis of the Monasterio de Piedra near Zaragoza, a visit to Salamanca University and the Cathedral, then two nights at Coimbra staying at the Quinta das Lágrimas and listening to Fado in the town.
We arrived at Caramulo Friday afternoon and immediately took a run up the hill to get an idea of what it was like. We then checked into the hotel and after taking our bags up to the room we went to visit the museum. In effect the museum includes an art collection and a collection of cars, including many race cars, and a few motorcycles.
After returning to the hotel I went to fit the 2 kg fire extinguisher to the passenger side floor of the car. The regularity competition does not require a rollbar, and fire resistant suit etc. but you must wear a helmet and have a 2 kg extinguisher fitted to the car. In the mean time our friends Eduardo and Veronica arrived to meet us having riden up from Coimbra. Following an excellent dinner at a nearby restaurant I went to do my document check, this consists of showing the documents for the car, my driving license and an ID card or passport. I was then hand a pack which contained our passes and the numbers for the car plus some publicity material and a couple of motoring magazines. I was considering taking the car for the scrutineering but decided to wait for Mario who arrived shortly afterwards. When Mario had completed his document checks, his son Duarte, my navigator, and I followed him to the scrutineers.
Whilst waiting for the scrutineer we fixed our “numbers” to the car. There was a moment of concern because my fire extinguisher did not have the certificate attached that is required in Portugal. This is a label which shows the date of manufacture, or of the last control, and the date when the next control must be performed. The decision was made that as it was a new extinguisher with a recent manufacturing date it would be allowed.
The next morning Duarte and I made our first “recognition” climb on a wet track and through a heavy mist. I made the decision that, for the reference run, I would drive at a steady pace as it would be easier to match a slow time if conditions turned bad. I was also very concious of the fact that I had to keep the car in one piece for the long trip home.
We set a reasonable reference time on our second climb. To give some idea Morio’s best time on the weekend with his Plus 4 was 1:48.797 and our reference time was a slow 2:48, effectively one minute slower. Unfortunately, despite the translation of the rules by Mario, neither I or Duarte really understood the rules until after our second classified time. In fact we thought that the total time was the one that counted the most but a careful reading of the rules shows that both sections count and the fastest overall time is also important. The translation is below.
The rules “Historical Category “
9.3.1 The event will be organised in:
– A recognition climb
– A climb for obtaining the reference time
– Three climbs that count for the classification
9.3.2 For the final classification only the last three climbs count, there is a penalty for each competitor if one of these is not completed.
9.3.3 The total route of 2,850 m, is divided into two sections, separated by a Control Point (CP), properly signed, which will be taking intermediate time.
First Section 184.108.40.206 – Departure (0m) to Turn 15 (1570m)
Second Section – Turn 15 (1570m) to Finish line (2850m)
9.3.4 The time reference of each team will be recorded during the second unclassified climb, and the sole purpose of the three classified climbs is to match the reference time. For every second of loss or gain, registered in the intermediate CP or CP Final, the teams will be penalised according to the table shown below.
9.3.5 The reference times are rounded to the full second immediately below.
Ex 55.72 s time accomplished, reference time is 55s
9.3.6 Penalties will be assigned according to the following table:
– For every second of CP in advance or at the end: 4 points
– For every second of delay in CP or end: 4 points
– Touch or drop cones placed in the path of chicanes: 8 points
– Slow down or stop before the TQ: 20 points
– Not completing a climb test: 50 points
9.3.7 To calculate the total points earned on every climb, the time recorded in each section shall be multiplied by a coefficient of 0.4, converted to points and added to the penalties provided in section 9.3.6.
9.3.8 It is forbidden to teams, on pain of a penalty, halt or significantly slow down your vehicle in the 100 meters prior to the locations of the end of each section, where the time taken are made.
9.3.9 Example of a climb and its penalties:
Reference time CP1 – 50s ‘, calculated 2nd ascent – 53s’ = 21.2 points
Reference time CP2 – 57s ‘, calculated 2nd ascent – 55s’ = 22.0 points
5 second lead / lag in the time reference = 20 points
Touch a cone = 8 points
Total Points in the 2nd ascent = 71.2 points
Despite some often very heavy downpours we were reasonably lucky for our reference climb and the first classified climb and avoided the worst of the weather. Duarte used a clever timer app on his smart phone to us to control times at the various flag marshal posts. On Saturday the car immediately ahead of us was a number 77, a BAC Mono Formula driven by André Villas Boas, a famous football manager, who got a lot of attention (his reference time was a fast 1:49 on a damp track). Behind us was number 79, a very fast 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider crewed by Miguel Alves and Maria Helena Alves. The Ferrari did give us some concerns as it was almost invariably right behind us at the finishing line. In fact we asked the officials to give them a little more time before starting and offered to let them go ahead of us but it seems they were not concerned and were probably there just to enjoy a fast drive rather than really compete.
Amongst the other interesting cars in the regularity event were two Bugatti entered by the Museu do Caramulo: number 51, crewed by Isabel Cudell Gouveia and Rita Gomes, was a 1929 Bugatti Type 40, and number 52, crewed by Ricardo Correia de Barros and Angeliki Correia de Barros, was a 1938 Bugatti Type 57 C.
Below are two variations on one of our runs. One is the video captured by the dashcam and the other is the same video captured from the dashcam software that incorporates a map of the climb.
There are many different classes in the competition and there were many race and rally cars competing and a round of the National Hill Climb championship was also contested. The aerobatic display did not take place due to conditions but the automobilia fair was in full swing. It is amazing how many people turned up on the Sunday to watch the event.
On Sunday the BAC Mono did not make an appearance but the Ferrari was again on our tail by the time we reached the finish line. With the dry track he was able to use all the power and acceleration of the Ferrari and arrived not far behind us despite a one minute gap in the starting time. Actually we had a lot of trouble keeping our time slow enough, the result off setting a slow reference time. It was at this point that we realised our error in not concentrating on completing both sections in the times set by our reference run. Our penalties were 90.4, 90.4, and 70.8 giving a total of 251.6 (at least we showed a certain consistency in our first two runs). This was enough to give us 8th place in our class and 15th overall. Not bad for a first attempt. If we had completed all the runs the same as the third we would have finished 4th in our class and 6th overall so we can hope to do better next year.
Mario did very well and managed to take second place in his class with a best time of 1:48.797 behind the 1974 BMW 1602 rally car of Abilio Machado who had a best time of 1:44.219. It was great to see our friend on the podium proudly wearing his PaddyMog T-shirt. Mario had not only competed in his Morgan Plus 4 but had also brought his newly acquired Morgan Three Wheeler in which he made several demonstration runs up the hill much to the delight of the motoring press. Alis accompanied him on one run wearing a helmet borrowed from the only other Morgan competitor the 80 something year old Vasco Pinto Basto. He had competed in his 1988 Morgan 4/4 with a best time of 2:01.082, which brought him to 9th place ahead of a Mini Clubman, a Lotus Elan and an Aston Martin DB2 – MK III.
At the cup presentation ceremony we were astonished at the number of different classes with each being awarded 1st 2nd and 3rd places. We also learned that there were presentations for the women who won the best times, or scores, in each class in which they competed.
As a rather curious aside the winner of Mario’s class crashed on his last run but as the best 2 of the three runs are counted he already had the prize in the bag. The winner of our class crashed off the road and down a bank into a tree when returning down the mountain after the last run. Apparently he tried to recover a mobile phone that had slipped to the floor of the car and managed to put the right hand wheels off the narrow sealed road and from there skidded over the edge. Fortunately neither driver was hurt.
Or return trip was through the Douro Valley, where we had an overnight stay at the Aquapura Hotel, Spain and France where we had a pleasant overnight stop with our friends Raphael and Odile at La Farlede. We arrived home tired but content. The only problem with the car is that I seem to have burned out either a part of the dash module circuit board or the motor of the cabin ventilator fan. The last 500 kms were done with the top up, because of the burning sun, and the side windows open.
We had a great time and it was a lot of fun. Thanks to the Targa Clube for organising the event but most of all thanks to Mario and Leo for their warm Portuguese hospitality, and thanks to Duarte for his enthusiastic skills as navigator. Alis and I enjoy visiting Portugal very much and we are already planning the trip for next year.
Thanks to Alis for the photos.