Autódromo Internacional Algarve, Portugal

ALGARVE CLASSIC FESTIVAL
27 – 29 October 2023

Party Atmosphere Lights up the Masters Season Finale at Portimão!

A true end-of-term party atmosphere livened up the Masters season-closer at the Algarve Classic Festival on the Portimão circuit in Portugal. In mainly sunny conditions – with a few damp intervals – the Masters grids out on a stunning show with five highly entertaining races. On Saturday, the end-of-season vibe was paramount as the Masters teams in the paddock gave it their best to turn the Hawaiian-themed final race day into a resounding success. The weekend was topped off with a social evening of canapes and cocktails at the harbourside NH Marina Resort in Portimão where all Masters racers and team members looked back on a great 2023 UK & European Masters season.

RACE REPORTS

Masters Endurance Legends – Race 1
Brooks delivers the goods in first Masters Endurance Legends race, Glover/Scott claim GT Trophy spoils

Steve Brooks produced a lights-to-flag victory in the first Masters Endurance Legends race at Portimão, as the pole-sitting Peugeot 90X silently strode away to a comfortable win over Keith Frieser in the Zytek 09S. The Canadian initially tried to stay with the French diesel-engined machine and did well to finish within 20 seconds of the winner.

“It’s lovely. It’s fantastic”, said a delighted Brooks. “Portugal, great weather, dry track, amazing car. Just the sheer enjoyment of it. Wonderful. A shame that [Peugeot rival] Stuart [Wiltshire] wasn’t here but it was still amazing.”

“I brought a knife to a gunfight”, Frieser quipped. “The Peugeot is so quick, and Steve drives it really well too, to be fair. I just tried to put in my best laps. It was a bit of a lonely race but it’s always joyful to drive that car. And this is my second favourite track, right behind Spa.”

Andy Cummings and Alvaro Fontes shared their Morgan Pescarolo 01 on their way to third overall and the P2 class win, but it was Mike Newton whose MG-Lola EX264 did the early running in class before the car’s turbo exhaust failed. Craig Davies and Ron Maydon bagged another P3 class win in their Ligier JSP3 while Andrew Donaldson powered his Lister Storm GTL to an unchallenged GT class victory.

“Amazing”, said Cummings about his stint. “The wind caught me out a little bit at the first turn down the hill. So that’s when the MG got past me. But then I got my head down and started chipping away. And by the time I’d come in for the pit stop, I’d virtually caught him again. I knew if Alvaro got in the car, he’d catch Mike.”

“Unfortunately for him I didn’t need to catch him”, said Fontes. “But what a race. This track is unique. This car is amazing. I enjoyed it very, very much.”

“It was lonely after the first lap”, said Donaldson of his emphatic GT class win. “But it’s the first time out for the car, so it was good fun. Towards the end, it was great fun chasing Nigel [Greensall] around. It was on the radio. Do we need to pass? Don’t we pass? They said you don’t need to. That Corvette is quick. With Nigel at it, it’s a quick car. So it was good fun to have a chase around at the end, despite being a full lap ahead.”

Neil Glover and Aaron Scott prevailed in the concurrent Masters GT Trophy race, leaving Mike Furness in the Courage LC75 between themselves and the equally Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo-equipped David & Jason McInulty, as they finished sixth, seventh and eighth overall. In ninth, Gianluigi Candiani’s Lucchini SR2 took second in P2 while the John Emberson/Nigel Greensall Chevrolet Corvette C6.R grabbed second place among the GTs, ahead of Günther Alth in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3. The two cars moved up after the Marcos LM600evo of Cor Euser and Jeroen van der Heuvel was black-flagged for failing brake lights.

“It was great fun. I really enjoyed it. The car is fantastic”, said Glover.

“It’s nice to see Neil making really good strides”, said Scott. “He found three seconds from the quali to the race. So I think that’s enjoyable for both of us to see the progress.”

“David put up a great fight, he was going well in the beginning”, said Jason McInulty.

“Yeah, mission accomplished”, said David.

“A quick pit stop and then me. I made a mistake and I spun. Aaron came past when I was spinning, so he didn’t actually overtake me!”, Jason quipped.

“It’s my first time here on that track”, said Alth. “It’s a fantastic track, but it’s very demanding. I’m a little bit exhausted at the moment, after over 40 minutes of driving. I think it’s a great place to perform here. It’s a fantastic track, but you have to get used to it. But the more you learn it, the more you learn to love it also.”

“Is there a better sounding car on the grid than the Corvette?” said a beaming Emberson. “It’s awesome, isn’t it? It sounds fantastic. Great to drive too, especially with Nigel. He showed me how to drive it properly. I’ll maybe get there, but it’s an awesome bit of kit.”

“We were racing the Marcos”, said Greensall. “He was a bit ahead of us and we were catching him slightly. If he hadn’t had the black flag he probably would have still have beaten us, to be honest. But yeah, the Corvette, it won Le Mans GT2 in 2012, so we’re running it in full GT2 spec. It’s a joy to drive, really. It’s just a sequential gear shift and no driver aids, a real racer’s car.”

Straight after lunch at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, the Masters Endurance Legends field rolled out with their fellow drivers from the Masters GT Trophy, as they embarked on their first race of the day. Sadly, the Peugeot 90X fight between Steve Brooks and Stuart Wiltshire would fail to materialise, Wiltshire’s Peugeot having succumbed in testing on Thursday. The sun was out, but at the same time small drops of rain were spitting down from a dark cloud right above the circuit.

Brooks duly led away, followed by Keith Frieser’s Zytek 09S, while Mike Newton in the MG-Lola EX264 got the drop on Andy Cummings in the Morgan Pescarolo 01. Craig Davies was fifth in the lead P3 machine, the Ligier JSP3 just ahead of the top GT car, Andrew Donaldson’s Lister Storm ahead of John van den Heuvel’s Marcos LM600evo. In eighth and ninth overall, Neil Glover and David McInulty fought over the Masters GT Trophy lead in their Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evos, with Gianluigi Candiani’s Lucchini SR2 completing the top ten now, while lying in third in the P2 class, ahead of Mike Furness in the Courage LC75.

At the front, Brooks put the hammer down immediately, leading Frieser by 6.6 seconds after three laps. Newton was 11 seconds adrift but holding third quite comfortably, with some seven seconds in hand over Cummings. Further back, Guy Ziser’s time in the BMW E46 M3 was kept to a single lap before he was forced to report to the pits with power steering issues. In seventh overall, Candiani had passed Van den Heuvel to split the two leading GT cars.

A new fastest lap of the race on lap 5 extended Brooks’ lead over Frieser to 12 seconds while the rest of the field remained static – until Furness also passed Van den Heuvel for an overall position. Meanwhile, in 12th, John Emberson ran third in the GTs, his Chevrolet Corvette C6.R keeping ahead of GT points leader Günther Alth in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 while Adam Sharpe in the Wolf from the CN category was 13th overall and second in the P3 class.

On lap 7, two warnings were issued – Van den Heuvel got the ‘meatball’ flag for failing brake lights on the Marcos, while Candiani was under investigation for start procedure infringement – and this duly led to a stop-and-go penalty issued on lap 8. David McInulty, meanwhile, had passed the Dutchman for ninth overall while also vaulting GT Trophy rival Glover.

As the pit window came ever nearer, Brooks gave it another go to increase his lead to 15 seconds while Newton – now 34 seconds adrift of the leading Peugeot – kept five seconds in hand over Cummings. Davies and Donaldson continued to lead their classes in fifth and sixth, while Candiani was chased by Furness. The Italian still had to serve his penalty, though.

On lap 11, Brooks was in for his mandatory stop, followed by Cummings who would hand over to Alvaro Fontes, with Donaldson, Candiani, Alth and Glover also in, the latter relieved by his preparer Aaron Scott. Newton took his stop the next time around, as did Furness and Van den Heuvel, the Dutchman handing the Marcos to his countryman Cor Euser. Sharpe was in next, with George Haynes taking over the CN Wolf, while Frieser and Davies extended their stay to lap 13, the latter handing the Ligier to Ron Maydon, as did John Emberson, who would be relieved by Nigel Greensall. In the meantime, Candiani took his second stop in order to serve his penalty.

On lap 14, with the pit window closed, Brooks reassumed his lead over Frieser which now amounted to 20 seconds. Newton had disappeared from third, however, as the MG-Lola was seen returning to the pits for a second time, its turbo exhaust broken, effectively gifting the P2 class lead to Fontes, the Morgan Pesca now 55 seconds down on the leader. Also as a result, Maydon moved up into fourth, with Donaldson next up, the Lister Storm in an unchallenged GT class lead over the Marcos. Furness was sixth, but the two Huracáns were closing in fast, Scott having got ahead of Jason McInulty, with Euser and Candiani completing the top ten for now. In 11th, Greensall in the Corvette was on a charge, though, running comfortably quicker than the three cars further up the road from him.

One car that Greensall needn’t pass anymore was the Marcos that was now shown the black flag as its brake lights were still not functioning after a quick fix during the stops failed to deliver the desired result. As a result, the Corvette was promoted to second in class while Alth assumed third place on the GT leaderboard.

The final five minutes proved to be static, as Brooks turned into preservation mode, happy to maintain a 15-second cushion to Frieser in second place. In the end, Brooks won by 17 seconds, with Fontes in third ahead of Maydon and Donaldson, all three winning their respective P2, P3 and GT classes. In sixth overall, Neil Glover and Aaron Scott triumphed in the Masters GT Trophy, with Mike Furness in the Courage LC75 staying ahead of their rivals David & Jason McInulty. Candiani was ninth while Greensall took second in GTs ahead of Alth, with the Haynes/Sharpe Wolf in 11th overall and second in P3.

Masters Endurance Legends – Race 2
Frieser signs off 2023 Masters season with storming win in second Masters Endurance Legends race at Portimão

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.

Masters Gentlemen Drivers & Pre66 Touring Cars
Pearson flies to Masters Gentlemen Drivers victory at Portimão, Barton wins in touring cars

Driving his Jaguar E-type solo, Gary Pearson produced a perfectly controlled drive to win the 90-minute Masters Gentlemen Drivers bout at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Following an exciting opening half led by the TVR Griffith of John Spiers who warred with Pearson, Richard Kent’s E-type and Robin Ward in the Ginetta G4R, Pearson took charge after the stops and had one less worry when Nigel Greensall in Spiers’ TVR came to a halt early into his stint. Chris Ward in Kent’s E-type tried to catch the similar car in front but to no avail, Pearson leading home Ward by 11 seconds.

“Yeah, I just started to get the hang of it towards the end”, Pearson quipped. “I suddenly got about hot about ten minutes after the driver change. I was suddenly sort of wishing my brother a speedy recovery, actually! I couldn’t afford to relax because I see Chris behind. As I was coming back over the loop for the hairpin at the top of the hill, I could see Chris sort of coming over the drop, so I could gauge where we were. Then every now and again he’d sort of disappear for a moment. So I thought, oh, he’s getting a bit closer, I’ll push a bit harder. So I could just see him. But it was great, great fun.”

“The gearbox kept getting tighter and tighter”, Ward said about failing to complete his chase of Pearson. “We’ve got the GT & Sports Car Cup now and tomorrow coming, so I thought I’ll try and save the car. Also, I was just sort of physically exerting myself because it was so stiff getting into gear. I was absolutely drained, I couldn’t have done another ten minutes. I was just so exhausted. But Gary drove really well. And Richard drove really well too because he was ill.”

Ron Maydon brought home the CLP class win in third overall after taking over from Robin Ward, the Ginetta remaining well ahead of the rival pair of Elans piloted by Philipp Buhofer/Stephan Joebstl and Steve Jones/Chris Atkinson, Atkinson pipping Joebstl to fourth on the final lap. In sixth overall, James Hanson and Paul Pochciol won the B2 class in their pre-63 E-type while the Doug Muirhead/Jeremy Welch Austin Healey 3000 bounced back from an unscheduled stop to beat the Billy Bellinger/Simon Orebi Gann Morgan Plus 4 Super Sport to the C2 class win. In a strong ninth overall, Michael Boyle’s MGB took C1 class honours.

“Yeah, we like to mix it with the big cars now and again”, said Ward. “They pull three or four car lengths down the straight, but then we can catch up with them around the twisty bits. It was good fun. The bigger cars, obviously, their brakes struggle a little bit after half an hour or so. Whereas the brakes were going long, but we don’t struggle so much. It was good fun, though. I enjoyed it.”

“That last lap was great fun”, said Atkinson. “I was pushing Stefan and before that I was trying to catch him and I had a spin. So I caught up with him again, and on the last lap, he just went a little bit wide and opened the door. I almost couldn’t let him back through!”

“That was a hard race”, said Joebstl. “I was happy that the car was running again because we had engine problems in practice, so we had to change the engine. So I think a good result from the back. I was a bit unlucky that I spun on the last lap…”

“It was a good race, I think”, said Hanson. “A little bit lonely out there, but still a lot of fun.”

In the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car section running concurrently for 60 minutes, Harry Barton eased to a dominant win over the Pedro & Rui Macedo Silva Lotus Cortina and the Austin Mini Cooper S of Peter Crewes and Fernando Soares. Mark Drain led early on before his Cortina faltered just before the stops.

On a bright Saturday morning, the combined Masters Gent Drivers and Pre-66 Touring Car grids would race until lunchtime, as the track slowly dried from its early-morning wet patchiness. John Spiers got the jump at the start, his TVR Griffith leading the E-types of Richard Kent and Gary Pearson but Robin Ward was on an early charge in the CLP class-leading Ginetta G4R, getting Pearson’s Jag at the hairpin on lap 2. Soon, though, Pearson was back up into third, while Chris Fox was the first to report to the pits in one of the Elans.

On lap 3, Spiers continued to lead but was hard pressed by Kent, the pair having opened up a three-second gap to Pearson and seven seconds to Ward. 20 seconds further back, James Hanson was fifth in the first of the pre-63 E-types while Paul O’Reilly in the first of the Elans was sixth ahead of Doug Muirhead in the C2 class-leading Austin Healey 3000. Meanwhile, Mark Drain’s Lotus Cortina led the touring car section from Harry Barton’s BMW 1800 tiSA.

Five laps into the race, the lead fight had expanded to three cars, as Pearson joined up at the back of Kent’s similar E-type. Ward was on his own in fourth, a situation that remained the same for several laps, as Drain continued to lead Barton by 20 seconds in the touring car race, while in C1, Michael Boyle valiantly remained on the lead lap in his MGB. On lap 10, though, Drain suddenly disappeared from sight with a flat tyre, handing the touring car lead to Barton’s BMW. Earlier, Paul O’Reilly had already retired his Elan to the pits with a lost fourth gear, while the Tom Harris/Rob Newall had been out of action since lap 4.

11 laps gone, the top three had grown into a top four, with Ward now also joining the fun, as the touring car pit window was set to open. The Peter Crewes/Fernando Soares Mini Cooper S was the first to call, the Briton handing over to his Portuguese team mate. Barton followed in on lap 12, while the Macedo Silvas’ Cortina continued for one more lap before Pedro handed over to Rui.

After half an hour of racing, Spiers continued to hold on to his lead, but Ward had pushed through into second ahead of Pearson, as Kent began to drop away from a leading trio split by less than a second. The gap to fifth-placed Hanson had mushroomed to a massive one minute and 29 seconds, with Philipp Buhofer’s Elan six seconds adrift in sixth. The Austrian in turn held seven seconds over Steve Jones in another Elan while Billy Bellinger had managed to get Simon Orebi Gann’s Morgan Plus 4 Super Sport into the C2 class lead ahead of Muirhead. Richard Bateman’s Elan rounded out the top ten. In the touring car section, Barton led Macedo Silva by 17 seconds and Soares by 41 ticks.

As the GT pit window approached, Spiers, Ward and Pearson were still tied to a string, with Kent now trailing the lead fight by six seconds. Further back, though, Muirhead was the first to come in, handing the Big Healey to Jeremy Welch, and he was soon followed by Kent switching places with Chris Ward, the latter having to serve a 15-second elite-driver penalty during their stop. The same would apply to Nigel Greensall who was due to take over from Spiers.

On lap 20, the leader was in, handing a temporary lead to Robin Ward, while Pearson also stayed out for the moment. Buhofer did come in, though, handing the Elan to Stephan Joebstl, while Michael Boyle in the C1 class-leading MGB came in from 13th place overall. Hanson was the next to hand over driver duties, Paul Pochciol climbing into the older E-type that still led the B2 class from the similar Marc Gordon/Nick Finburgh example in 12th overall.

Pearson came in on lap 21 while Robin Ward squeezed out another lap before handing over to Ron Maydon in the Ginetta. Meanwhile, Steve Jones was relieved by Chris Atkinson, while Orebi Gann took over from Bellinger in the C2 class lead, in seventh overall. At the same time, ten minutes remained in the touring car section, and Barton now led comfortably from Macedo Silva and Soares.

With the pitstops all resolved, Pearson had assumed the lead, with Maydon trailing the Jag by a couple of ticks. Chris Ward was third, 19 seconds down on the leader, but Greensall suddenly disappeared from the radar, allowing Joebstl, Pochciol and Atkinson to each move up a spot – all three lapped by Pearson by now. The TVR Griffith that had shown to be bombproof in the past few races had ground to a halt at turn 5 and was out of the race. There would be no storming comeback drive from Greensall this time around.

At the front, Maydon gradually lost sight of Pearson, and on lap 25, Ward (C.) was past into second place to create a Jaguar 1-2. The two were setting similar lap times, though, so Pearson continued to nurse a 19-second lead over his rivals. Further back, Jeremy Welch was doing everything to negate the additional pitstop time, as the Austin Healey had now closed up to Orebi Gann’s Morgan, with 18 seconds still remaining between the two class rivals. Meanwhile, focus shifted to the touring cars that had gone into their final minutes of racing, and on lap 27, Barton was flagged off as the winner, with almost a lap in hand over the Macedo Silva Cortina, with the Crewes/Soares Mini in third, one lap down.

The GT cars would remain on track for another 30 minutes, and partly through traffic Pearson’s lead had been cut to 16 seconds, as Ward continued to knibble away at that lead tenth by tenth, especially starring in the back part of the circuit – but would it be enough? In seventh overall, however, Welch had done it and passed Orebi Gann to regain the C2 class lead for himself and Doug Muirhead.

On lap 30, with 22 minutes remaining, Pearson’s lead was down to 14 seconds but at the average rate of half a second per lap Ward would be unable to catch the other E-type in front. Maydon remained in third, 44 seconds down on the leading Jaguar, but continuing to move away from the pursuing Elans of Joebstl and Atkinson – both now lapped as well. Two laps down, Pochciol was sixth, trailing Atkinson by 43 seconds while C2 class rivals Welch and Orebi Gann ran seventh and eighth overall, ahead of Michael Boyle in the C1-class MGB, Nick Finburgh in the second pre-63 E-type and Roger Barton in the Elan started by Richard Bateman.

With 13 minutes left on the clock, Pearson led by as much seconds, so now Ward would have to lap a second faster each minute to still stand a chance of catching Pearson, who was controlling beautifully at the front. In fact, Pearson’s lead grew to 15 seconds next time around, making Ward’s challenge even harder. The final ten minutes would be all about preservation, as most of the positions were locked in by now.

And so the clock wound down to zero with Pearson claiming the win by 11 seconds from Chris Ward and the trio of CLP class cars led by Maydon. In an exiting final few laps, Atkinson managed to pip Joebstl to fourth – and second in class – while Hanson/Pochciol bagged the B2 class win in sixth. Muirhead/Welch took C2 class victory, with Boyle claiming C1 honours in eighth overall, passing the faltering Morgan of Orebi Gann right at the end.

Masters Racing Legends for 66/85 F1 Cars – Race 1
Ayari storms to win in Portimão’s first Masters Racing Legends race

From third on the grid on a damp track, Soheil Ayari completed a storming drive to win the first Masters Racing Legends race at the Algarve Classic Festival, the Frenchman’s post-82 Ligier JS21 first following Nick Padmore’s Lotus 77 through past the pole-sitting Brabham BT49 of Werner d’Ansembourg before relieving Padmore of first place on lap 3. The former F3000 hot shoe then rolled off the laps to win by 11 seconds from d’Ansembourg who made a strong recovery to second place, having initially dropped to fourth behind Ken Tyrrell’s Tyrrell 011.

“t was great, it was being on slick tyres on the wet”, said a beaming Ayari. “So it was sideways everywhere. Braking problems, locking wheels, traction problems, spinning everywhere. But it was a lot of fun. Really, in the car it was amazing. During the winter, I go ice racing, and this was just like that!”

“I want to say it was fun, but I’d be lying. That was terrifying!” said d’Ansembourg. “It was very, very frightening. It was my first time in these conditions on slicks. I guess I had some very good drivers to follow, which put me in confidence quite fast. But I’d be happy if I never have to do that again!”

Padmore took another pre-78 class win in third, chased home by teammate Marco Werner whose Lotus 76 found its way past the warring Tyrrell 011 duo of Ken Tyrrell and Jamie Constable, the American in the end prevailing with six seconds in hand, despite an early half-spin dropping him down to sixth. Behind Warren Briggs in the McLaren M29, David Shaw took a fiercely contested third in the pre-78 class, his Williams FW06 narrowly keeping ahead of Max Werner’s Hesketh 308C and Yutaka Toriba’s Williams FW05 who both took turns in third place in class.

“That was scary!” said Padmore. “It was just too slippery. Yeah, I did lead for a bit but I couldn’t hang on. I had no grip whatsoever, so I couldn’t wait for the chequered flag to come out. I was so sideways, understeer and everything. Just no grip! It was good fun, though.”

“It was a little bit of a frustrating moment”, said Tyrrell of his minor slip-up. “Because I felt like if I hung with those guys, as the track kind of came in, maybe I could continue to move up. We spun, kind of grabbed the wrong gear, bogged, got the right gear. By that time, Constable had gone by and it took me several laps to get by him. And then everybody else had kind of checked off. But fun. I mean, this is a fantastic circuit.”

“It’s a nice car”, Werner said about debuting the Lotus 76, “but it’s really not a car for the top three normally. So I’m happy with fourth position. It was a little bit difficult for me because I was on new slicks. I only had new ones. And in these wet conditions they are still not on the grip level to start with. So with used tyres it would have been better. Later in the race, especially the first four corners were nearly dry, and that’s where the tyres came good – so I needed more corners like that with more drying up. But it is like it is. I’m happy. It’s nice to be back after a long time.”

“It was a beautiful race in the sense that it really absorbed your concentration”, said Shaw. “It was so slippery. And when you look at the track, it looks nearly dry, but it’s so little grip.

And I had a spin in turn 15 on lap 2. So after that, every lap around there, it was just so… And I still nearly lost it again. But I’m really happy just to be out and finish a race after I’ve been out of action for about 15 months. And I’ve only done about two races in that Williams… But I’m fully fit now, and am looking forward to more racing!”

On a damp Saturday morning, but with the sun breaking cover, the Masters Racing Legends made an unusually early start to their final round of the season with their first race of the day. The sizeable Italian section of the paddock wasn’t having a good time of it, though, as missing was Marco Fumagalli, his Theodore TR1 having hit trouble in practice, while Marco Coppini’s March 761 ground to a halt on its warm-up lap and needed to be recovered to the pitlane. Starting from his first career pole, Werner d’Ansembourg led away in his Brabham BT49, followed by fellow front-row sitter Nick Padmore in the Lotus 77 and 19 more 3-litre F1 cars.

Soon, the order changed around, as Padmore grabbed the initiative on the opening lap, followed through by Soheil Ayari’s Ligier JS21 and Ken Tyrrell’s Tyrrell 011, while on the damp track d’Ansembourg took a careful approach in fourth. Marco Werner’s Lotus 76 was next up, followed by Jamie Constable’s 011, with David Shaw moving his Williams FW06 into seventh overall and third in the pre-78 class behind Padmore and Werner. Mark Hazell’s Williams FW07B and Warren Briggs’ McLaren M29 followed in eighth and ninth, with Max Smith-Hilliard moving into the top ten in his Fittipaldi F5A.

After two laps, Padmore, Ayari and Tyrrell had broken away from d’Ansembourg, who now had Constable harrying him for fourth, the Tyrrell having passed Werner’s Lotus 76. Further back, Smith-Hilliard was on a roll and had jumped both Hazell and Briggs, the former having spun to drop down to 18th, just ahead of pre-72 class leader Ewen Sergison’s Surtees TS9B.

At the front, Ayari started to pressure Padmore, and into lap 3, the Frenchman was past. Meanwhile, a brief slip-up from Tyrrell allowed d’Ansembourg and Constable up into third and fourth. In eighth, Yutaka Toriba was another man on a charge, as his Williams FW05 had fought its way past David Shaw for third in the pre-78 class.

Immediately, Ayari began to set a blistering pace, breaking free from Padmore at a rate of two seconds a lap, as the former F3000 driver led the Lotus 77 by four ticks on lap 4. D’Ansembourg was a steady third now, six seconds behind the Frenchman, while the two Denim-liveried Tyrrells warred over fourth place. Marco Werner held strong in sixth, while Briggs moved back ahead of Toriba in seventh. Behind them, the other Werner – Max in the Hesketh 308C – was now up into ninth (and fourth in the pre-78 class) in a topsy-turvy battle in the midpack, the German leading Shaw and three Arrows in line astern, Nick Pink in the ex-Neil Glover Arrows A5, Patrick d’Aubreby in the Arrows A4 and Valerio Leone in the Arrows A6, as Smith-Hilliard abandoned the chase to report to the pits.

On lap 6, Ayari still led, but it was d’Ansembourg who now did the chasing, the Belgian having caught and passed Padmore for second. Constable and Tyrrell were still at it for fourth, ahead of Marco Werner and Briggs, while Shaw had regained the upper hand in the titanic struggle for third in the pre-78 class, the Williams FW06 repassing Toriba’s FW05 and Max Werner’s Hesketh.

Ten minutes remained on the clock, and Ayari looked a safe bet for the win, leading d’Ansembourg by seven seconds. Padmore looked like a trouble-free pre-78 class leader as well, ten seconds adrift of the leader, while Tyrrell had finally found a way past Constable, with Marco Werner following through into fifth.

Truly enjoying himself, Ayari produced a stunning fastest lap of the race on lap 9, the French hot shoe rounding the Portimão circuit in 1.54.213 to increase his lead to a massive 12 seconds. Further back, Marco Werner had passed Tyrrell for fourth overall to now beat Ayari’s fastest lap of the race, but Padmore was eight more seconds up the road in third. Tyrrell’s fifth place was still under threat from Constable, but behind them a big gap had opened up to Briggs in seventh, who in turn led the pre-78 class battle for third, still headed by Shaw, but with Max Werner, Toriba and now also Geoffroy Rivet in the Trojan T103 all pushing the Briton to defend his podium spot.

After 13 hugely entertaining laps, Ayari crossed the line as the winner, 11 seconds from d’Ansembourg, with Padmore and Marco Werner in third and fourth, the pair cornering the two top spots in the pre-78 class. Tyrrell clinched the final post-78 podium spot ahead of Constable, with Briggs a distant seventh. Shaw held on to claim third place in the pre-78 class, chased home by Max Werner, Toriba and Rivet, with Hazell’s Williams in 12th ahead of Pink, d’Aubreby, Leone, Marco Bianchini’s in the ex-Jason Wright Shadow DN8, Ewen Sergison in the pre-72 class-winning Surtees, with Luciano Biamino’s Lotus 81 and Guillaume Roman’s Ensign N175 bringing up the rear.

Masters Racing Legends for 66/85 F1 Cars – Race 2
Ayari storms to win in Portimão’s first Masters Racing Legends race

From third on the grid on a damp track, Soheil Ayari completed a storming drive to win the first Masters Racing Legends race at the Algarve Classic Festival, the Frenchman’s post-82 Ligier JS21 first following Nick Padmore’s Lotus 77 through past the pole-sitting Brabham BT49 of Werner d’Ansembourg before relieving Padmore of first place on lap 3. The former F3000 hot shoe then rolled off the laps to win by 11 seconds from d’Ansembourg who made a strong recovery to second place, having initially dropped to fourth behind Ken Tyrrell’s Tyrrell 011.

“t was great, it was being on slick tyres on the wet”, said a beaming Ayari. “So it was sideways everywhere. Braking problems, locking wheels, traction problems, spinning everywhere. But it was a lot of fun. Really, in the car it was amazing. During the winter, I go ice racing, and this was just like that!”

“I want to say it was fun, but I’d be lying. That was terrifying!” said d’Ansembourg. “It was very, very frightening. It was my first time in these conditions on slicks. I guess I had some very good drivers to follow, which put me in confidence quite fast. But I’d be happy if I never have to do that again!”

Padmore took another pre-78 class win in third, chased home by teammate Marco Werner whose Lotus 76 found its way past the warring Tyrrell 011 duo of Ken Tyrrell and Jamie Constable, the American in the end prevailing with six seconds in hand, despite an early half-spin dropping him down to sixth. Behind Warren Briggs in the McLaren M29, David Shaw took a fiercely contested third in the pre-78 class, his Williams FW06 narrowly keeping ahead of Max Werner’s Hesketh 308C and Yutaka Toriba’s Williams FW05 who both took turns in third place in class.

“That was scary!” said Padmore. “It was just too slippery. Yeah, I did lead for a bit but I couldn’t hang on. I had no grip whatsoever, so I couldn’t wait for the chequered flag to come out. I was so sideways, understeer and everything. Just no grip! It was good fun, though.”

“It was a little bit of a frustrating moment”, said Tyrrell of his minor slip-up. “Because I felt like if I hung with those guys, as the track kind of came in, maybe I could continue to move up. We spun, kind of grabbed the wrong gear, bogged, got the right gear. By that time, Constable had gone by and it took me several laps to get by him. And then everybody else had kind of checked off. But fun. I mean, this is a fantastic circuit.”

“It’s a nice car”, Werner said about debuting the Lotus 76, “but it’s really not a car for the top three normally. So I’m happy with fourth position. It was a little bit difficult for me because I was on new slicks. I only had new ones. And in these wet conditions they are still not on the grip level to start with. So with used tyres it would have been better. Later in the race, especially the first four corners were nearly dry, and that’s where the tyres came good – so I needed more corners like that with more drying up. But it is like it is. I’m happy. It’s nice to be back after a long time.”

“It was a beautiful race in the sense that it really absorbed your concentration”, said Shaw. “It was so slippery. And when you look at the track, it looks nearly dry, but it’s so little grip.

And I had a spin in turn 15 on lap 2. So after that, every lap around there, it was just so… And I still nearly lost it again. But I’m really happy just to be out and finish a race after I’ve been out of action for about 15 months. And I’ve only done about two races in that Williams… But I’m fully fit now, and am looking forward to more racing!”

On a damp Saturday morning, but with the sun breaking cover, the Masters Racing Legends made an unusually early start to their final round of the season with their first race of the day. The sizeable Italian section of the paddock wasn’t having a good time of it, though, as missing was Marco Fumagalli, his Theodore TR1 having hit trouble in practice, while Marco Coppini’s March 761 ground to a halt on its warm-up lap and needed to be recovered to the pitlane. Starting from his first career pole, Werner d’Ansembourg led away in his Brabham BT49, followed by fellow front-row sitter Nick Padmore in the Lotus 77 and 19 more 3-litre F1 cars.

Soon, the order changed around, as Padmore grabbed the initiative on the opening lap, followed through by Soheil Ayari’s Ligier JS21 and Ken Tyrrell’s Tyrrell 011, while on the damp track d’Ansembourg took a careful approach in fourth. Marco Werner’s Lotus 76 was next up, followed by Jamie Constable’s 011, with David Shaw moving his Williams FW06 into seventh overall and third in the pre-78 class behind Padmore and Werner. Mark Hazell’s Williams FW07B and Warren Briggs’ McLaren M29 followed in eighth and ninth, with Max Smith-Hilliard moving into the top ten in his Fittipaldi F5A.

After two laps, Padmore, Ayari and Tyrrell had broken away from d’Ansembourg, who now had Constable harrying him for fourth, the Tyrrell having passed Werner’s Lotus 76. Further back, Smith-Hilliard was on a roll and had jumped both Hazell and Briggs, the former having spun to drop down to 18th, just ahead of pre-72 class leader Ewen Sergison’s Surtees TS9B.

At the front, Ayari started to pressure Padmore, and into lap 3, the Frenchman was past. Meanwhile, a brief slip-up from Tyrrell allowed d’Ansembourg and Constable up into third and fourth. In eighth, Yutaka Toriba was another man on a charge, as his Williams FW05 had fought its way past David Shaw for third in the pre-78 class.

Immediately, Ayari began to set a blistering pace, breaking free from Padmore at a rate of two seconds a lap, as the former F3000 driver led the Lotus 77 by four ticks on lap 4. D’Ansembourg was a steady third now, six seconds behind the Frenchman, while the two Denim-liveried Tyrrells warred over fourth place. Marco Werner held strong in sixth, while Briggs moved back ahead of Toriba in seventh. Behind them, the other Werner – Max in the Hesketh 308C – was now up into ninth (and fourth in the pre-78 class) in a topsy-turvy battle in the midpack, the German leading Shaw and three Arrows in line astern, Nick Pink in the ex-Neil Glover Arrows A5, Patrick d’Aubreby in the Arrows A4 and Valerio Leone in the Arrows A6, as Smith-Hilliard abandoned the chase to report to the pits.

On lap 6, Ayari still led, but it was d’Ansembourg who now did the chasing, the Belgian having caught and passed Padmore for second. Constable and Tyrrell were still at it for fourth, ahead of Marco Werner and Briggs, while Shaw had regained the upper hand in the titanic struggle for third in the pre-78 class, the Williams FW06 repassing Toriba’s FW05 and Max Werner’s Hesketh.

Ten minutes remained on the clock, and Ayari looked a safe bet for the win, leading d’Ansembourg by seven seconds. Padmore looked like a trouble-free pre-78 class leader as well, ten seconds adrift of the leader, while Tyrrell had finally found a way past Constable, with Marco Werner following through into fifth.

Truly enjoying himself, Ayari produced a stunning fastest lap of the race on lap 9, the French hot shoe rounding the Portimão circuit in 1.54.213 to increase his lead to a massive 12 seconds. Further back, Marco Werner had passed Tyrrell for fourth overall to now beat Ayari’s fastest lap of the race, but Padmore was eight more seconds up the road in third. Tyrrell’s fifth place was still under threat from Constable, but behind them a big gap had opened up to Briggs in seventh, who in turn led the pre-78 class battle for third, still headed by Shaw, but with Max Werner, Toriba and now also Geoffroy Rivet in the Trojan T103 all pushing the Briton to defend his podium spot.

After 13 hugely entertaining laps, Ayari crossed the line as the winner, 11 seconds from d’Ansembourg, with Padmore and Marco Werner in third and fourth, the pair cornering the two top spots in the pre-78 class. Tyrrell clinched the final post-78 podium spot ahead of Constable, with Briggs a distant seventh. Shaw held on to claim third place in the pre-78 class, chased home by Max Werner, Toriba and Rivet, with Hazell’s Williams in 12th ahead of Pink, d’Aubreby, Leone, Marco Bianchini’s in the ex-Jason Wright Shadow DN8, Ewen Sergison in the pre-72 class-winning Surtees, with Luciano Biamino’s Lotus 81 and Guillaume Roman’s Ensign N175 bringing up the rear.