A Lotus F1 wins again at Estoril
The sixth edition of Estoril Classics got off to a great start, with the grandstands full and the paddock full of fans that could watch fantastic races and the extraordinary performance of Nick Padmore, who drove his Lotus 87 to victory in the first race of the Classic GP Portugal Sotheby's Realty.
The Formula One event, evoking the era when the Estoril Autodrome used to host the top category of motor sport, was the most anticipated of the day and fans' expectations were not disappointed with remarkable performances, recalling the achievements of Ayrton Senna amongst others, with the soundtrack of the Cosworth DFV V8 and Alfa Romeo V12 engines setting the tone.
After Friday's great qualifying duel between Lotus and Williams, today the challenge of Frank Williams' cars vanished in the very first moments of the race, as Nick Padmore took his Lotus 87 Ford Cosworth to victory in front of stands full of fans.
Yesterday two cars from each of these manufacturers monopolised the first two rows of the grid, suggesting a great fight for the win of the Estoril Classics' Formula 1 cars race.
However, Martin O'Connell was unable to start his Williams FW07B due to gearbox problems and Mark Hazell abandoned his Williams FW08C on the very first lap due to a faulty fuel pump, leaving the way clear for Padmore.
The Lotus 87 driver showed impressive pace in front of the large crowd, winning the first race of the weekend.
There were plenty of battles for the next positions, with a few touches of the heat of battle mixed in, leaving the impressive crowd at the Estoril Autodrome to wonder who would come out on top.
Laurent Fort, in the Ensign MN181-B Ford Cosworth DFV, eventually secured second place ahead of Steve Brooks, who finished on the bottom step of the podium in his Lotus 91.
Ewen Sergison, in the Surtees TS59 Ford Cosworth DFV, took victory in Class A - reserved for cars built to the end of 1979 and without a ground effect or flat bottom - after an intense duel with Jamie Constable's Embassy Lola T370, which culminated in contact between them and the latter's retirement.
The second race of the Classic GP Portugal Sotheby’s Realty will start on Sunday at 1.40pm and can be followed on the event's social networks.
60 years of history in 9 categories
Before the Classic GP race, several categories held their qualifying sessions for tomorrow's races.
The Heritage Touring Cup was the first to take to the track, as the public began to fill the stands of the Autódromo do Estoril.
Maxime Guenat, in his spectacular Ford Capri RS 3100, was the strongest, beating two similar cars from Emile Breittmayer and Yvan Scemama. The competitiveness of the squad in this category gives certainty of great fights in tomorrow's race, which will start at 2.15pm.
The 2.0 Litre Cup was the category that followed on the programme, with the Porsche 911s taking centre stage. Mark Sumpter / Andrew Jordan were fastest, but the fight for pole position was intense with the top three separated by less than a second.
Tomorrow's race will open Sunday's spectacle, with the green light for the twenty-one Porsche's to take to the track scheduled for 9:15am.
The powerful Lola T70 Mk III B driven by Toni Seiler was the star of Classic Endurance Racing 1, securing pole position for tomorrow's race, which will start at 3.30pm. However, it had to contend with the agile Chevron B19 of Rolf Sigrist, who stayed close behind, setting good indications for Sunday's one-hour race.
With the grandstands already decked out with a large crowd, the first race of the day was held in The Greatest Trophy category. After yesterday's Bizzarrini's victory, monopolising the front row, today it was Porsche's turn to impose itself, with Yves Vogele securing the victory at the wheel of his 904/6 Carrera GTS against the imposing 5300 GT of Christian Schoedel/Dirk Ebeling, who had started from pole-position. This category has another one-hour race scheduled for tomorrow at 11.55am.
After the Formula 1 cars race, which was the second race of the day, Classic Endurance Racing 2 continued the programme with a thrilling race in which Lola was strongly opposed by Chevron.
Maxime Guenat's T286 got the better of Philipp de Bruehwiler's B36 and Russell Busst's B31, with the top three separated by just over ten seconds after one hour.
The day continued with the Iberian Historic Endurance single qualifying session. Lars Rolner and Patrick Simon, in their Martini Racing liveried-Porsche 911 3.0 RS, were the day's best and lived up to their status as favourites, beating off competition from over forty cars in an exciting session.
Mid afternoon it was the turn of the Fifties Legends to take to the track for their forty-five minute race. As was the case throughout the day, there was constant excitement, much to the delight of the large crowd in the stands, as Serge Kriknoff got the better of his Lotus XI 1500 against strong opposition in Eugène Deleplanque's TVR Grantura MKIII.
The end of the day came as Endurance Racing Legends ran its first race of the programme. Christian Glasel, who started from pole position, took victory in his MG-Lola EX257, beating a similar car driven by Mike Newton, with the performances of prototypes and GTs from this century and the late 1990s impressing the large crowd that continued to colour the Estoril Autodrome.
The curtain came down on Saturday's programme with the Sixties' Endurance race. The two-hour race was held in the late afternoon, finishing under the cover of night, which gave a special magic to the second day of Estoril Classics.
The Shelby Cobra 289 dominated the race, taking the first four positions. Maxime Guenat / Guillaume Mahe were the strongest, beating Harvey Stanley and Patrick Simon / Urs Beck, with the podium drivers separated by just twenty seconds after fifty-five laps.
After a day of strong emotions with a parade of competitions that spanned sixty years of motor racing history, expectations are high for the final round of the sixth edition of Estoril Classics.