F1 Cars Took the Crowd by Storm on Saturday
The second day of the sixth edition of Estoril Classics got off to an early start. From the very first moments of action on the track, there was an influx of spectators lining the Autódromo do Estoril, which was packed with enthusiasts.
Once again, the sun graced one of the most important classic racing events in the world, casting its light on the thousands of fans who visited Portugal's oldest permanent circuit.
This Saturday, the competition was already in full swing on the track, with qualifications and races thrilling the fans, who also had plenty of reasons to be interested in the paddock, such as the Amicale Spirit of Speed area, where you could see various motorbikes that have marked the history of world motorcycling, and there were also talks to unlock the secrets of these machines, which also gave impressive demonstrations on the track.
Shortly after 4pm, the moment that most fans had been waiting for, the first race of the Classic GP, took place, with the grid forming in front of a packed and enthusiastic grandstand eager to see cars that helped create pages of Formula 1 history until 1986.
The crowd rejoiced at the strong start, with Soheil Ayari, who won pole-position yesterday, maintaining his lead despite attacks from Jamie Constable and Katsu Kubota, who were very threatening when braking for the first corner.
Then the Gaulish driver of the Ligier JS21 gave his opponents no chance and quickly carved out a lead over his pursuers, with the Japanese driver of the Lotus 72 leading the chase after the Englishman DNF his Tyrrell due to technical problems.
Kubota came under a lot of attack from Mark Hazell's Williams FW08 and Laurent Fort's Ensign MN181-B, but despite having a ground-effect car (class A), he managed to resist the onslaught of his opponents in a stoic manner, as they engaged in a duel with each other.
On their tenth lap, Hazell and Fort were unable to avoid a collision as they exited the Variant side by side, resulting in the Ensign being left stranded on the track after a short flight and the Williams returning to the pits with its front left suspension seriously damaged.
The race was eventually stopped under red flags, but with just two and a half minutes to go, it wasn't resumed, and Ayari was declared the winner of the first Classic GP race after an impressive display.
The Frenchman completed the nine laps with a lead of twenty-six seconds over Kubota, who took second place overall and won Class A with a top-class performance.
Mark Hazell, despite being involved in the incident that triggered the red flags, finished in third place, followed by his main opponent throughout the race, Laurent Fort.
Sunday will see the second race of this year's Classic GP, with strong and intense emotions expected once again in front of an impressive crowd.
The other races
It was the Fifties' Legends that received the green light for the first race of the event, with landmark cars from the 1950s and 1960s taking to the track in very demanding conditions.
The slender Lotus 19 shared by Otto Reedtz-Thott/Jakob Viggo Holstein was the strongest, winning the 1h20 race against the imposing Shelby Cobra of John Spiers/Nigel Greensall and the agile Austin-Healey 3000 Mk I of Eugène Deleplanque.
After the Classic GP, The Greatest's Trophy race took place, where some of the most valuable cars in the entire programme were seen on track.
Volker Hichert/Björn Ebsen took on their Bizarrini 5300 GT won the race over John Spiers' Lister Costin and Guillermo Fierro's valuable Maserati T61 Birdcage.
The competitive parade of machines on track continued with the Endurance Racing Legends, where the most modern cars of the entire event were presented.
The impressive Maserati MC12 GT came out on top in the hands of Evgeny Kireev/Ramzan Orusbaev, beating Mike Newton's MG EX264 LMP2, which dropped to last on the first lap due to an incident with one of the Aston Martin DBR9s. Marc Jully completed the podium in his Chevron B71 Ford, a chassis also known as the Keiler KII.
In the Sixties Endurance, the Shelby cars were the great dominators, with seven cars in the top nine. Only the irreverent Lotuses managed to get in the way, with three Hethel cars in the top ten.
Philip Kadoorie/Seb Perez were the strongest in the Cobra 289, joined on the podium by Michael Birch/Luke Stevens in the Lotus 15 and Armand Mille/Yves Scemama in the Cobra Daytona Coupé.
Tomorrow, the final day of this year's event, there will once again be a packed programme of races covering six decades of motorsport, with all fans able to watch a museum on the track, and paddock tickets are already completely sold out. However, it is still possible to access Grandstand A, which is free of charge.