Estoril Classics

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The revived Estoril event, first started by Francisco Santos of GP do Porto fame, and  now run by Diogo Ferrao’s Race Ready organisation, proved itself again a great success as part of what the local Municipality is billing “Estoril Classics Week”.

Classics Week kicked off with the Rally Portugal Historica, which started its tough 2000km route on Wednesday 9 October from the Casino Gardens in Estoril, for a finish on Saturday at Estoril racing circuit, where the rally cars took to the track to be time-tested through slaloms and laps.  In addition there were celebrity exhibitions by drivers such as Ari Vantenen.   Reputed to be one of the toughest asphalt regularity events in Europe, the rally was won by the Franco-Belgian team of Philippe Fuchey and Christophe Hayez driving a Porsche 911 SC.

The Concours d’Élégance took over the casino gardens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the races took place on the weekend of 11-13 October.  Motorbikes were also on the programme with the group, Spirit of Speed, demonstrating their classic GP bikes on both track days in the presence of Giacomo Agostini and his MV Agusta.Headlining the racing show was a grid of pre-1986 Formula 1 cars invited by the Tourist Association of Cascais and Estoril.  They raced twice over the weekend, with Martin Stretton winning both times in the Tyrrell 012 he often drives in the Masters series.   Katsu Kubota (Lotus 91-07), Steve Hartley (McLaren MP4) and Jamie Constable (Shadow DN8) scrapped for the two remaining podium places, finishing the first race in that order.   The grandstands were packed for the second race, but this time Michael Lyons, who had failed to start the first race, made it into second place in his Hesketh 308 ahead of Constable, after both Kubota and Hartley retired.

Representing an earlier era of Formula 1, the HGPCA also had a double winner in their races for pre-1966 cars when Jon Fairley took his Brabham BT11 to two resounding victories, both times ahead of Andrew Beaumont in his Lotus 18.

Martin Stretton in the Tyrrell 012 he often drives in the Masters series was a double winner in the Classic F1 races

The FIA Lurani Trophy completed its final round of the 2019 Championship, arriving at Estoril with the title still undecided.  Crispian Besley (Cooper T56) could theoretically match Bruno Weibel’s points, but could still be beaten by Jeremy Deeley in class C2.

Qualifying set the pattern, with Richard Bradley (Brabham BT2), a man equally at home with Nissan LMP2 or a pre-war Aston Martin Ulster, at the head of the times, with Weibel’s Lotus 22 and Mark Shaw in a Brabham BT6 almost inseparable behind him.  Newcomer Stephan Joebstl was settling in well to the Hall and Hall-run ex-Greg Audi Lotus 20/22

Greg Thornton (Chevron B8), Carlos Tavares (Lola T292) and John Sheldon (Chevron B16) 1000km Sports Cars

Bradley led the first race carving out an increasing gap to Weibel, who fell into the clutches of Mark Shaw, the pair swapping places until Shaw was finally able to make it stick to the flag.  Although rain was threatened, it remained dry for Race 2 on Sunday when there was another convincing win for Bradley, as Wiebel and Shaw resumed their dice.  With a comfortable cushion, Bradley can only be described as a perfect gentleman, as he gallantly slowed on the last lap to allow FJ Chief Duncan Rabagliati’s Alexis to remain unlapped!

Wiebel’s third place was enough to win him his third Lurani Championship title, while Crispian Besley led the three-car Cooper T56 team in the closely fought C2 Class and Stephane Rey took front engined honours both times in his Scorpion 500S.

The rally boys, including Ari Vatenen, entertained

Sports cars produced a reduced grid, but quality was not lacking.  Two races were won by Max Hilliard-Smith and Nick Padmore, driving the former’s gorgeous Chevron B19, followed home both time by John Speirs’ Osella PA3 and Carlos Tavares in the Ferrao family’s Lola T292.

The local Trofeu Mini races entertained the crowds, as Minis do, with good battles throughout the field.  French Mini preparer Philippe Quirière took victory both times, with series regular Fernando Soares second.

The biggest grid was for Ferrao’s own Iberian Historic Endurance series for prototypes, GT and touring cars.  The podium saw a representative from each category, with Carlos Barbot, driving his Merlyn Mk4 on the top step, Miguel Ferreira and Francisco Carvalho, in a  Ford Escort RS 1600, in second and James Guess/James Hilliard in a Ginetta G10 in third.

The competitive part of the weekend ended with the Group 1 Portugal touring cars.  João Diogo Lopes was the best, driving a Ford Escort RS 2000, followed by André Castro Pinheiro’s Jaguar XJ8 V12 and the Ford Escort RS 2000 of Paulo Vieira.

But still the spectators remained in their seats to watch the early evening club parades.  It must be said that the Portuguese spectators take some beating for their knowledge of the cars and sheer enthusiasm, giving good performances the kind of cheers more often seen in a football stadium than at a racing circuit.


For a full report see our December 2019 issue

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