1952, Vila Real, "VIII CIRCUITO DE MOTOS - I Internacional"
In 1952, the 8th edition of the motorcycle circuit took place and, corresponding to the wishes of many, the event of that year had, for the first time, an international character. The fact that, the previous month, an international race was held at the Boavista circuit (Porto), also for the first time, facilitated the Trás-os-Montes ambition that, taking advantage of this circumstance, managed to register the race in the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme calendar.
It is interesting to remember a part of the text of the Private Regulation of the race: VILA REAL
regulation July 5, 1952 “(…) Rider equipment Artº 12º - Both in training and during the race, competitors must wear a crash helmet of a model officially approved by the F.I.M. painted in the colors assigned to each competitor's nationality. (Article 104 of Annex F. of the Int. Code) - 1st It is mandatory to wear a full suit and leather gloves, both in training and in the race. - 2nd - Portuguese competitors must wear a badge with the national shield placed on the chest and a white painted crash helmet. - 3rd - The use of shoes with cards is not allowed.(…) (…)Advertising Art. 24th - the competitor undertakes, due to his registration, not to make use of the results of the race, other than those made public by the decision of the jury. During the test it is formally prohibited to use any advertising element.(…)”
28 riders of different nationalities were present (France, Gibraltar, England, Italy, Switzerland and, of course, Portugal). Interestingly, the Spaniards, although initially registered, did not attend because they were not able to reach an agreement with the organization about the value of the prizes to line up! The race took place in two races, one for the 350cc and the other for the 500cc. A significant part of the riders raced in both classes. The starting grids were established based on the best times achieved in the timed training sessions held on the two days prior to the races. In the 350cc, John Grace (NORTON) prevailed over Américo Lino (AJS) and Isaac Caetano (BSA) while in the 500cc John Grace (NORTON), once again the man from Gibraltar, prevailed over António Pinto (NORTON) and , again in third, to Isaac Caetano (BSA). Excluding the superiority shown by John Grace (NORTON), the Portuguese riders, as a result of their better knowledge of the circuit, had a good overall result in training. In the 350cc the second foreigner, Roland Gauch (MOTO GUZZI), came in ninth and in the 500cc the second foreigner was Martino Giani (GILERA) with eighth position on the starting grid.
Fourteen riders started the 350cc race and John Grace (NORTON) won and clearly imposed his supremacy, never having been disturbed in the lead. Isaac Caetano (BSA) was forced to retire on the third lap, when he was gallantly in second place. Werner Gerber (AJS) was in second place followed by Américo Lino (AJS) who had a successful fight throughout the race with Roland Gauch (MOTO GUZZI) who finished fourth. In the main race, the 500cc, John Grace (NORTON) was the protagonist of an episode that would become legendary. After the start, he started to delay completing the first lap at a slow pace, during the second lap he was forced to stop (on the course and not in the pits) to check that his rear wheel was loosened. At the place where he stopped, with the intention to give up, there was a workshop, he immediately asked for a key and tightened the wheel... and continued, at the end of the second lap (of 20) he passed the finish line with a delay of 2m46s for the commander Martino Giani (GILERA). He then embarked on a blazing recovery that ended in victory. Giani (GILERA) withdrew with a malfunction on the 12th lap, however at the pace that Grace (NORTON), at that time, was approaching, his victory was already predictable. In addition to the victory, he created a new absolute record (faster than cars) on the circuit with a time of 3m45:09s which corresponds to an average of 115.15 km/h. The runner-up was, once again, Gerber (AJS) followed by António Pinto (NORTON) and Isaac Caetano (BSA). In this race there was also a mishap worthy of mention, in Abambres, which resulted in serious injuries to a GNR agent and the pilot José Bastos.
350cc 1st John Grace - Gibraltar - NORTON - 108.4200 km/h average 2nd Werner Gerber - Switzerland - AJS 3rd Américo Lino - Portugal - AJS ... 500cc 1st John Grace - Gibraltar - NORTON - 108.7400 km/h average 2nd Werner Gerber - Switzerland - AJS 3rd António Pinto - Portugal - NORTON