Werner/Padmore double up in Masters Endurance Legends at Portimão
Marco Werner and Nick Padmore took a lights-to-flag victory to double up in the two Masters Endurance Legends races at the Algarve Classic Festival. Overcoming their elite-driver pitstop penalty despite a fierce challenge from Xavier Micheron in the Riley & Scott-Elan MkIIIC, Werner handed Padmore a Lola-Lotus B12/80 that was still in the lead when it returned to the track after its mandatory stop. Padmore’s job was made easier when the Frenchman sadly threw away second place with a spin.
“Yeah, it was close with Xavier”, said Werner while awaiting reception of the winners’ trophies. “In the beginning, it was just 1.9 seconds, and we feared that he was going to catch us with his straight-line speed. But then he spun. It’s a shame, it would have been nice to have him on the podium here with us.”
“What a great teammate, he’d done all the work and gave me the lead”, said an elated Padmore. “And what a fantastic car. I was still learning, it’s completely different to anything I’ve driven. I want to learn properly in a private test…”
Micheron’s demise meant second and third for Christophe d’Ansembourg’s Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2 and Keith Frieser’s Zytek 09S, the two warring over positions after the pitstops before the Belgian broke free to lead the Canadian home by ten seconds, albeit one minute and three seconds behind the winning Werner/Padmore car.
“I was struggling because my wet tyres were already old”, said d’Ansembourg. “With the pitstops I lost a place to Keith, so I had to overtake him again. And then Xavier went out, so that helped of course.”
“It was very, very slippery”, said Frieser. “I’ve not much experience in the rain with this car, but I pushed very hard. I had great in and out laps for the pitstop, so I passed Christophe, but couldn’t hold him. Survival was the name of the game today.”
Coming from the back, Jamie Constable claimed a lonely fourth in his Pescarolo-Judd 01, ahead of Mike Newton in the MG Lola-AER EX257, and the Craig Davies/Ron Maydon pairing in the Ligier-Nissan JSP3-15. In seventh overall, Jason Wright took the GT class win in his Ferrari 458 GT3.
“It was a good drive, I really enjoyed myself”, said Wright. “The car was so nice to drive. It was just too bad that [class rival] Richard [Meins] was further back, I would have liked to fight him.”
On a track still wet from early-morning showers, a safety-car start was the safest choice, so the field received the green flag after two exploratory laps on an Autodromo do Algarve that remained decidedly damp despite the sun’s arrival for the remainder of the day. Starting in the finishing order of race 1 meant that Marco Werner flew off in the lead, his Lola-Lotus B12/80 breaking free from Xavier Micheron’s Riley & Scott-Oldsmobile MkIIIC by three seconds and from Christophe d’Ansembourg’s Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2 by six seconds. Frieser’s Zytek 09S and Mike Newton’s MG Lola-AER EX257 stayed put but in sixth Jamie Constable’s Pescarolo-Judd 01 had scythed through the field from its lowly starting position, the Pesca having spun out the day before.
Behind, Davies’ Ligier-Nissan JSP3-15 and Meins’ Aston Martin DBR9 had had minor contact, causing the GT1 car to drop away, with Jason Wright’s Ferrari 458 GT3 taking over the mantle as the GT class leader, in eighth overall, still ahead of Mike Furness in the Courage-Judd LC75 and Chris Atkinson in the ORECA-GM FLM09.
On lap 5, Werner’s lead over Micheron had increased to eight seconds, with d’Ansembourg a further eight ticks in arrears. Frieser was following the Belgian closely while Constable had jumped Newton for fifth but was still 30 seconds behind the leader. At the back, Mark Higson’s ORECA-Nissan 03 had overtaken Atkinson to get into the top-ten.
The pit window approaching, Werner continued to pull away, leading Micheron by ten seconds on lap 6. D’Ansembourg and Frieser followed at 22 and 25 seconds respectively while Constable still had 13 seconds to bridge to the pair. Meanwhile, Davies had passed Newton for sixth but it proved short-lived, as he spun to recover in eighth, taking up his place behind Wright in the lead GT car.
Two laps later still none of the cars had come in for their mandatory stops, Werner using his track time to leave Micheron trailing by 14 seconds on lap 8. Then Constable was the first to blink, as Werner, Micheron and d’Ansembourg continued for yet another lap, the German now 17 seconds clear of his French rival. While reporting brake issues, Higson was in, though, and so were Frieser, Newton, Wright and Atkinson, the latter handing over to James Hagan. Micheron came in on lap 10, followed by Davies who would swap places with Ron Maydon. On lap 11, Werner took the final opportunity, as did d’Ansembourg and Meins.
When the dust had settled, it turned out that Werner had done enough to negate his car’s elite-driver pitstop penalty, leaving teammate Padmore in a 1.5-second lead over Micheron. Frieser, however, had pipped d’Ansembourg at the stops, and led the Belgian by a second. Constable was a distant fifth, trailing the leader by well over a minute, with Newton sixth, Wright seventh, and Maydon in eighth. Furness and Meins completed the top-ten.
A subsequent slow lap by Micheron, possibly caused by an error, made Padmore’s work a lot easier, the Briton suddenly having nine seconds in hand on the Frenchman, while with less than ten minutes remaining on the clock, Frieser continued to keep d’Ansembourg at bay. On lap 14, though, the Belgian had passed the Canadian to reclaim third before easing away from the Zytek.
Now more familiar with the car, Padmore stormed off into an unassailable lead, further helped by Micheron spinning out at turn 9 to leave d’Ansembourg and Frieser into second and third. In the end, Padmore took the chequered flag by well over a minute from d’Ansembourg, with Frieser a further ten seconds behind. Constable claimed a lonely fourth ahead of Newton, who took second place in the P2 class, with Maydon in sixth (and the winner of the P3 class), and Wright in the winning GT car in seventh. Rounding out the top-ten were Furness, Hagan and Meins.
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