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The F1 driver coach rallying for a cause with support from Stroll and Alonso

The F1 driver coach rallying for a cause with support from Stroll and Alonso

Miami Grand Prix to Rally Portugal isn’t a usual back-to-back but this is the reality for the 45-year-old former racing driver turned driver coach. The last 10 years have seen Pinto become part of Stroll’s support team travelling to every grand prix acting as the Canadian’s driver coach. However, it is now Stroll, who will be supporting his coach, when Pinto lines up on the Portugal stages.

“This rally is just for fun as I have had no time to test with Baku and Miami being back-to-back,” Pinto told Motorsport.com. “I arrived here late on Monday and jet-lagged to do the recce on Tuesday but it is an experience.”

Long before Pinto turned to driver coaching to make a living, the Portuguese fell in love with motorsport through rallying after witnessing the iconic Lancia 037s tackle Portugal’s infamous gravel stages in 1983 during the frightening Group B era. It sparked a career in motorsport where Pinto competed in single-seaters, winning the 2002 Formula BMW Iberia Junior Cup, before testing in Formula 3 and Formula 3000. Ultimately budget constraints ended the single-seater dream, setting in motion a switch to the Portuguese national rally championship until 2007.

“Honestly my passion has always been rallying,” he says. “I fell in love with motorsport through rallying and part of the story of me being here is that it is 20 years since I first did Rally Portugal in 2003, but more than that it is 40 years since my first memory of rallying which was Rally Portugal in 1983.

“The Lancia team with their 037s did a presentation in Lisbon near where my father worked and he took me to see it and from there I was a fan. I went as a spectator every year to watch the rally and I have lots of memories of the Group B cars. They were just unbelievable. What made me fall in love with motorsport and work all my life in it was the sound of the Group B, especially the Audi.”

Ultimately a full-time driver coach career beckoned, creating the Winway intensive driver development programme. It’s a career that has resulted in Pinto working with some of motorsport’s brightest talents and teams, including junior single-seater stalwarts Prema in F4, F3 and F2.

A fresh-faced Verstappen benefitted from Pinto’s help at the 2014 Florida Winter Series, while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Formula E driver Robin Frijns, Macau Grand Prix winner and reigning GT World Challenge Europe champion Dani Juncadella and F2 driver turned sportscar pilot Sean Gelael are among the drivers to have…

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