Iberian Endurance at Estoril

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The 50-minute Iberian Historic Endurance race closed the Estoril Classics meeting after a riveting qualifying that saw the Merlyn Mk4 of Carlos Barbot and Pedro Matos line up alongside the Porsche 911 3.0 RS driven by Bruno Santos.  The second row was occupied by the two Ford GT40s, helmed by Paulo Lima and Christian Oldenhorff, while in the third row were two Porsche 911 3.0 RS driven by Pedro Bastos Rezende and Cláudio Vieira.

The first part of the race saw four different leaders until the mandatory pit stop window opened.  First to take the lead from Barbot was Lima in the GT40, but he was overhauled by Santos’ Porsche, which wouldn’t stay in the lead for long either, as Oldenhorff, who swapped his Alfa Romeo GTAm for the even more powerful Ford GT40, was soon out front.  

The compulsory pitstop once again shuffled the top spots, with the Porsches of Bruno Santos, Pedro Bastos Rezende and Cláudio Vieira, emerging in that order.  Slightly further back, the two GT40s fought an exciting battle with the Merlyn for fourth place and top spot in the GTP & Sportscar class.  If the Dearborn cars were faster at top speed, the Merlyn was much more effective in the twists and turns of the Cascais circuit, allowing the team to set the fastest lap of the race on the 13th pass.

With seven minutes to go, a safety car brought the pack back together for a final one-lap sprint.  Bruno Santos took full advantage of leading the re-start, taking his Porsche across the line to win the overall and H-1976 class.  Pedro Bastos Rezende got the better of Cláudio Vieira in the fight for second place, but the latter was later penalised, handing third to the Merlyn, now in the hands of Matos, who overtook the two Ford GT40s in the last thrilling moments of the race to win the GTP & Sportscar class. 

To read about the class victories, see our November 2023 issue…

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