It started back in March with a phone call to Hyundai WRC. Would the team be up for sending a WRC car to Portimão for our TG24 test? Yes, it would. There’s a catch: although it’s a track test, we want it in full gravel trim, because it’s just funnier. Race teams don’t usually understand funnier, only faster, but Hyundai has a sense of humor – “No problem,” comes the reply. Oh, and can we have it with all the trimmings – awning, jacks, mechanics, etc? “Of course – do you want a driver, too?” Uh, we’d rather not.
A month later and I’m on Google Maps. I’ve been to Portimão dozens of times for various events. I love the track and the surrounding roads, but want to get my bearings and, hang about, what’s that just to the west of the track?
That looks suspiciously like a bunch of dirt tracks and off-road routes. I call Portimão in a state of excitement. Are they? They are. Can we? We can. What about the noise? What about the noise?
Stars align and carry on aligning. To a rally team used to spannering under massive pressure, a 5 am start is positively relaxing. Team TG (Charlie Turner, Mark Riccioni and Rowan Horncastle), ‘fresh’ from a couple of hours downtime, load kit into the Ford Raptor and grab me from the pitlane where I’ve only just finished lapping the Model 3 and A45. Yep, our sleep schedules are bolloxed – just like in a real 24-hour race.
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