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 «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 worked with the Portuguese. But it is Stroll that has become his longest-serving client having worked with the Canadian since his karting days.

Nuno Pinto (right) has been Lance Stroll's driver coach since 2013

Nuno Pinto (right) has been Lance Stroll’s driver coach since 2013

Photo by: Aston Martin

«When Lance won the FIA European F3 Championship in 2016 I was already working with him since 2013 and this is our 10th season together. When Lance moved up the categories I followed him and we have been working together,» he says.

«I do all the F1 races but I am doing this rally because it doesn’t clash with Lance and the Aston Martin team’s commitments. I don’t coach him that much anymore because after seven years of F1 he doesn’t listen to me that much! But I’m still a big friend and give him advice.

«All the drivers I have worked with are clearly super talents. I didn’t teach them much but sometimes it is nice for them to talk to somebody who also drove the cars to know what they are going through and to help them.»

Forty years on from his first glimpse of the famous Martini liveried Lancias and 20 years since he last competed Rally Portugal as a driver, Pinto is back competing on the famous gravel stages competing this weekend in the hotly contend WRC2 class, including WRC rally winners Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke.

But this weekend’s return to Rally Portugal has a different twist compared to his previous attempts, his last arriving in 2005 where he drove a Renault Clio. This time he is rallying for charity after launching his Project 64 initiative — named after his car number — with Stroll and Alonso among the first names to contribute to this venture. The fundraising scheme has already passed 5000 euros with each donor’s name appearing on the bonnet of his Citroen C3 Rally2. As an added incentive everyone who has donated will be entered into a draw to win a pair of Stroll’s Aston Martin gloves and a hat signed by Stroll and Alonso.

«We are doing some fundraising. I don’t have many sponsors and I only have a couple of companies that have helped me or provided me with some services for the rally. As I had the car free of stickers I wanted to do something for charity,» he adds.

The gloves and cap signed by Stroll will be auctioned off after the rally to raise funds for charity

The gloves and cap signed by Stroll will be auctioned off after the rally to raise funds for charity

Photo by: Winway

«I haven’t had enough time to properly plan it but on Sunday morning before going to Miami Grand Prix I was talking to some friends and they said there is always a way to do crowdfunding and then everyone that contributes will have their name on the car. We have passed already 5000 euros and it will keep growing.


«I have got a pair of gloves from the F1 teams from Lance, signed by Lance and Fernando and they have both contributed, so they will be the first two names on the car. I will use the gloves in the rally and then I will do a draw between everyone that contributed to gain this as a prize. I have to thank Lance and Fernando for their cooperation. We will donate everything that we raise next week but we still need to decide which institution it will go to, but we will do a vote with all the people who contributed.

«This is more than us just doing the rally if we can contribute to something to help somebody with the money that we raise we will make someone happy, I think it is nice.»

Donate to the fundraising effort here.

Pinto takes on the likes of Greensmith, Solberg, Mikkelsen and Meeke in the WRC2 class in Portugal

Pinto takes on the likes of Greensmith, Solberg, Mikkelsen and Meeke in the WRC2 class in Portugal

Photo by: Tom Howard

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