Keith Frieser became the final Masters winner of an exciting 2023 season by claiming an emphatic victory in the second Masters Endurance Legends race of the Algarve Classic Festival. The Canadian inherited the lead from race 1 winner Steve Brooks whose Peugeot 90X faltered with a gearbox issue on the opening lap, and after that, Frieser drove his heart out and left nothing on the table to win by a massive 56 seconds.
“Yeah, I did my fastest lap of the weekend”, said Frieser. “You know, I’d rather chase Steve frankly. You know, he’s a friend, and I don’t like to see trouble. But if there’s going to be trouble, then I’ll take advantage of it! So, yeah, it was good…”
Winning the P2 class in the process, Andy Cummings and Alvaro Fontes ran home their Morgan Pescarolo 01 in second place while P3 class winners Craig Davies and Ron Maydon took third overall in their Ligier JSP3. In fourth overall, Andrew Donaldson doubled up on GT class wins for his debuting Lister Storm GTL – a remarkable first outing for the glorious 20th-century GT1 machine. Behind the Lister, Gianluigi Candiani took his Lucchini SR2 to second in the P2 class, while two places further back, Mike Furness in the Courage LC75 completed the top three of the class. Finishing eighth, the John Emberson/Nigel Greensall Chevrolet Corvette C6.R claimed second place among the GTs, with the Oli Webb/Guy Ziser BMW E46 M43 GT2 clinching the final GT podium spot in 11th overall.
“Fantastic again”, said Cummings, “P2 now. When the Peugeot dropped out, it was a bit of a gift, really, but that LMP1 was so fast, we couldn’t stay with that. Otherwise, great experience!”
“The car was running really lovely”, said Davies. “Just got into a bit of a gap and was a little bit on my own, but the circuit is probably my favourite circuit, so you can challenge yourself against that, and it’s mega. So, a lovely season and then a lovely race to finish the season off, so a few beers tonight!”
“Yeah, doubling up on GT wins on one set of tyres all weekend!”, said Donaldson. “It’s been quite a nice way to do it. A good start for the car.”
“Better without the spin this time!” said Emberson. “I enjoyed it more. I don’t know if it was because the track was cooler, but we seemed to have more grip and it was a great race. I enjoyed the race with the Lamborghinis. That was a lot of fun, so, yeah, it was good.”
“Great to finally get a full race running in the BMW”, said Webb. “First time it’s ever turned a wheel, so we’re really happy with it.”
In sixth overall, Neil Glover and Aaron Scott did the double in the concurrent Masters GT Trophy, as their Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo headed the similar machine shared by David & Jason McInulty.
“We had a great race”, said Glover, “so things are picking up, and I really enjoyed it.”
“Yeah, it was really good”, said Scott. ”Yeah, he drove a really good first stint, and then I pushed on at the end. It was good fun, actually. It’s such a great track, I love coming here.”
“We struggled with the car”, said David McInulty. “We had some sort of problem inside the gearbox or the suspension, but it kind of felt like we had a flat tyre on the back, but it obviously wasn’t. We limped home with it, and that was as much as you can do. It was all good fun. We had a good weekend.”
“Yeah, it was probably worse on my second stint”, said Jason McInulty. “It was difficult to drive for some reason. But end of the season, time to strip them down and find out what you’ve damaged…”
Drawing the curtains on a wonderful 2023 Masters season, the Masters Endurance Legends and Masters GT Trophy cars went out for one more time at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Steve Brooks in the Peugeot 90X led away but into the opening lap the French car disappeared, its suspected gearbox gremlin manifesting itself almost instantly. At the end of lap 1, the Peugeot peeled off into the pits and that was it.
This meant that Keith Frieser led in the Zytek 09S, followed by Andy Cummings in the Morgan Pescarolo 01 and Craig Davies in the Ligier JSP3, as Mike Newton’s MG-Lola EX264 had failed to make the start after its mechanical failure in the first race of the day. In fourth overall, Andrew Donaldson once again led the GT phalanx in front of Mike Furness in the second-placed P2 car. The Courage LC75, however, was chased hard by Cor Euser in the bellowing Marcos LM600evo, with Gianluigi Candiani following closely in his Lucchini SR2. On lap 3, both moved past to let Furness worry about Oli Webb who had been driving the opening laps as a man possessed, the BMW E46 M3 GT2 shared with Guy Ziser now up into eighth overall after starting from the back. In the concurrent Masters GT Trophy race, Neil Glover led David McInulty in their intra-Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo tussle.
At the front, Frieser was driving beautifully, the Canadian now 11 seconds up on Cummings, while Davies held strong in third overall. Donaldson was still fourth but his GT class lead was coming under threat from Euser whose pace in the Marcos was a second quicker. Furness , meanwhile, had got back on Candiani and Webb to be sixth once more. In tenth overall, John Emberson split the Lambos in his Corvette C6.R while George Haynes in the CN Wolf chased McInulty for 12th overall while leading Günther Alth in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Approaching the pit window, Frieser continued to churn out the fastest laps of the race as his lead over Cummings grew to 17 seconds, with Davies a similar amount in arrears in third. Meanwhile, Euser had slimmed down his deficit on Donaldson to seven seconds while once again upping his pace.
Candiani, Webb, Alth and David McInulty were the first to come in on lap 10, with Donaldson in next, followed by Cummings, who handed over to Alvaro Fontes. Then Glover pitted for Aaron Scott to take over while Haynes came in to swap places with Adam Sharpe. Euser, Furness, Davies and Emberson finished their opening stints on lap 12, the latter two being replaced by Ron Maydon and Nigel Greensall, respectively. However, in the pitlane the Marcos made contact with the Ligier after what looked like an unsafe release, forcing the stewards to investigate the issue – but Euser was left stranded in the pitlane anyway, in the process taking the sting out of the GT class fight. On lap 13, the leader was the last to make his mandatory stop.
After all the stops had panned out, Frieser led Fontes by a massive 40 seconds, with Maydon a further 47 seconds adrift. Donaldson continued to lead in GTs, but a lap down, with Candiani now fifth ahead of Furness as the Italian and the Briton fought over second place in the P2 class. In the Masters GT Trophy race, Scott had broken away from Jason McInulty, who now had Greensall and Sharpe in between himself and his Lambo rival.
With ten minutes to go, Frieser kept on pounding in the quick laps, as he once again improved his own mark on lap 16 – the Canadian was indeed leaving nothing on the table. In the remaining laps, the Zytek 09S flew towards a 56-second lead over Fontes at the chequered flag, with every other car lapped. Maydon was third and the P3 class winner, with Donaldson in fourth as the leading GT driver. In fifth, Candiani took second in P2, while Scott brought home a second Masters GT Trophy win with Neil Glover in the Lamborghini Huracán. Furness grabbed third place in P2, ahead of Greensall in the second-placed GT car. The Haynes/Sharpe CN Wolf took ninth – and second in P3 – while the other GT Trophy Lambo of David and Jason McInulty rounded out the top ten. In 11th overall, Oli Webb and Guy Ziser clinched third place in GTs ahead of Alth’s Aston.