Clube Escape Livre recovered a 120-year-old event and, after three intense days with many adventures, the final balance of the 2023 edition of the Circuito das Beiras by Bridgestone / First Stop is clearly positive. Not even the heavy rain that accompanied the last two days of the event prevented a Darracq from taking center stage once again as it crossed the roads linking Coimbra to Castelo Branco and Guarda, covering a total of around 440 kilometers.
The thirty-one classic cars gathered for this tour braved the stormy weather during the stages linking Castelo Branco to Guarda and the highest city to Coimbra. Having abandoned the competitive aspect on the road, the Circuito das Beiras offered participants a daily quiz of knowledge and observation, as well as a challenge for everyone to dress up in their vehicle's period clothing.
The set of cars included real gems such as the 1921 Darracq 12 HP Open Tourer or the 1926 Berliet, both coming expressly for this edition of the Clube Escape Livre event: the first left from the Museu do Caramulo, the second from the Museu de la Historia de la Automacion de Salamanca.
On the other hand, Pedro Villas-Boas, a great name in national motorsport, whom Clube Escape Livre took the opportunity to pay tribute to, was present with a fantastic MGA TC, heading a long list of models from the British brand. Ford, Studebaker, Hotchkiss, Wolseley and the most contemporary Mercedes, Citröen, Fiat, Renault and Datsun were also represented, along with an immaculate Triumph Dolomite Sprint and the Sunbeam Alpine, also coming from the Salamanca Museum.
After three days of intense activity, the victory was shared by Tiago Patrício Gouveia/Tiago Branco in the spectacular 1902 Darracq and by Manuel Simões/Graça Simões in the beautiful Citröen 11 BL. They obtained the highest score among the participating teams, with the Citröen duo standing out for the fact that they wore, during the three days, clothing from the era of the car born in 1947. Third place went to João Teixeira in an MGB, followed by António Dionísio (MG TF) on equal terms with José Manuel Pinto. The Top 5 was rounded off by António Mota's beautiful Austin Healey 3000.
In the different classes, Tiago Patrício Gouveia's Darracq was best in Class A (up to 1904), Luís Lavin (Ford A) won in Class C (1919 to 1930) and António Fernandes Ribeiro (Wolesley 10/40) was best in Class D (1931 to 1945). Manuel Simões' Citröen 11 BL won Class E (1946 to 1960), while Luís da Cunha Matos (MGB) won Class F (1961 to 1970). Class G was the most competitive and the victory ended up going to João Teixeira's MGB.
All the participants received the SPAL Trophy alluding to the event and were also presented with the magnificent book by José Barros Rodrigues, "O Circuito das Beiras e o Espírito Visionário de José Caetano Tavares de Melo", which was launched at the start of this edition and is now available in bookshops.
Finally, the Trophy of the Parish Council of Casteleiro (where José Caetano Tavares de Melo was born), created to elect the most beautiful car of the event, was awarded, by vote of all the participants, to the Darracq 12 HP Open Tourer owned by Tiago Patrício Gouveia and the Museu do Caramulo. A beautiful piece of art that will adorn the museum's trophy case.
Source: Clube Escape Livre, according to Newsletter 76 | 2023 of Jornal dos Clássicos
Pre and post-event