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Miguel Oliveira: one man’s diabolical passion

With the passing of doctor Miguel Oliveira, Portugal has lost the driving force behind Diabolique Motorsport, the country’s most famous private rally team.

Those who have read our cover article in Issue 2 of Tazio Magazine will know about Oliveira and Diabolique. The Ford RS200 that was involved in the dramatic crash on the first stage of the 1986 Rally Portugal was entered by Diabolique. The accident would leave four spectators dead. Portugal’s rally hero Joaquim Santos was behind the wheel at the time, Miguel Oliveira was his co-driver. The accident left a deep mark on both of them.

Miguel Oliveira. Photo private archive

The Ford connection

As you can read in the article Hugo Reis wrote, Miguel Oliveira started Diabolique Motorsport out of a deep-rooted passion for rally. The team started in 1981 with a Porsche 911 SC and then moved on to Ford Escorts. Good connections with David Sutton led Oliveira to buy one of the Ford Escort RS 1800 Sutton had campaigned successfully in the world championship in Rothmans colours. Another thing Oliveira was good at, was realizing he better put some real talent behind the wheel, with him managing things from the co-driver’s seat. Consequently, Oliveira reached out to Joaquim Santos.

It was a match made in heaven. Miguel Oliveira once said in an interview: “At first we had a panel beater in the team. But when ‘Quim’ became our driver, we had to fire him because there was no more work for him.”

Ford RS200. Photo Manuel Portugal

Group B

The combination Santos – Oliveira would win three national rally championship titles in a row. It was only when the Portuguese Renault importer upped the stakes with a Renault 5 Turbo, that Diabolique’s iron grip on Portuguese rallying diminished. Oliveira saw a solution and he went to Ford to buy the Group B the Blue Oval was preparing: the RS200. With the dramatic consequences we know.

See Also

39 victories

The accident did not break Diabolique’s and Oliveira’s spirit. Oliveira even kept the RS200 for some time. After the RS200, Diabolique switched to the Group A Ford Sierra Cosworth for Santos and Oliveira. In 1990, the Diabolique story ended with 39 victories over ten years of activity.

Miguel Oliveira passed away on February 22nd.

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