The sun is setting on the asphalt of the Estoril circuit in the Cascais region. The last car returns to the paddock, the chequered flag is still flying in the air. This is the end of the 2021 season of the series by Peter Auto. Let’s take a look at this last weekend of racing.
The Greatest’s Trophy
First race of the weekend led by the Bizzarrinis of Dirk Ebeling # 68 and Christian Bouriez # 46. After a few laps, white smoke comes regularly out of # 88, when Malte Fromm’s Bizzarrini brakes, especially in the turns. But the driver is not scared and adopts a rather pushy driving. He is in fact ranking fourth with an obvious target: to step on the podium. As the laps passed, he got dangerously close to # 49 Hipolito Pires (Porsche 904/6 Carrera GTS). He is not far… and overtakes on the fifth lap straight line despite the white smoke still escaping from the car. Here he is on the third step! But # 49 Porsche does not let it go. With eleven minutes left, the battle is still raging when Hipolito Pires car suddenly slowed down before coming to a complete stop at the third corner. He will not start again, mechanical failure.
The Greatest ’Trophy grid opens again the festivities for the second racing day of Estoril Classics. Italians lead the race. Is it time for revenge for Christian Bouriez and his Bizzarrini (# 46) who finished on the second podium step yesterday? Verdict in 40 minutes. So far, the action is mostly at the third place. Indeed, John Emberson’s Morgan SLR (#157) is looking like to close the gap with Yves Vogele in Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ (# 45), the pressure is intense. Is it the latter that makes the Swiss pilot make a mistake? The fact remains that the Alfa unfortunately goes off the track and thus offers the Morgan (# 157) the third step with less than 15 minutes from the finish. On the Bizzarrini side, Christian Bouriez (# 46) is indeed taking his revenge on the day before and is now leading the pack ahead Dirk Ebeling, also in a Bizzarrini 5300 GT (# 68).
Endurance Racing Legends
18 cars on the starting grid. A battle is raging at the race lead between James Cottingham (# 15) and Mike New (# 25), only three seconds separate the Dallara from the Lola-MG. There is also a great rivalry between three 993 GT2 Evo Porsches, respectively ranking fourth (# 22), fifth (# 52) and sixth (# 11), again the difference is counted in seconds, less than 10. Here, the driving talents, will make the difference! There are less than 10 minutes of racing left and the least that we can say is that the Dallara (# 15) has flown away, there is now over one minute difference with Mike Newton’s Lola-MG ranking second. It comes as no real surprise that the fastest lap is signed by James Cottingham with a top speed of 302 kph.
The Dallara (# 15) is back on track for the grid second race. Will Mike Newton and his Lola-MG (# 25) succeed in challenging the Italian? The start is given and Max Girardo takes off. Following him, Mike Newton (# 25), Stefan Roitmayer (# 86) and Marc Jully (# 60) who quickly took over his rival. With less than 20 minutes of racing left, the spirits are heating up for fourth place. Indeed, the Porsche 993 GT2 Evo and Sebastien Glaser (# 22), who started at the back of the starting grid, are now less than five seconds behind Stefan Roitmayer (# 86). Incredible recovery. The pilot widens the gap over the laps. Suddenly the Porsche picked up a slower pace and finished ranking seventh position. However, it remains a great race performance!
Group C Racing
Martin Brundle in Jaguar XJR10 (# 61) takes the lead of the Group C race, first one of the meeting for this incredible grid. He is closely followed by Toni Sinclair running in Spice SE90 (#85) very quickly caught up, then overtaken by Olivier Galant, also in a Jaguar (XJR12 # 1). The Frenchman is hot on the leader’s trail but meets technical problems with his mount. In fact, the gullwing door opens slightly when braking. The driver, calm, kept on with Martin Brundle (# 61)’s wake until the pit stop window. His door repaired, he seems to regain confidence and takes the lead of the race at the fifteenth lap. A first place secured by the twenty-second penalty applied to the Zak Brown / Martin Bundle (# 61) crew due to the former F1 driver’s professional status.
Second race of the Group C grid and Toni Sinclair’s Spice SE90 (# 85) takes the lead. However, he was quickly overtaken by Olivier Galant’s Jaguar XJR12 (# 1). The pilot intends to keep his title from the eve. Overtaking’s regular, the two cars are often side by side until the breaking point, every second counts. What a beautiful show! With less than 20 minutes left and Toni Sinclair looks in trouble, he is losing places in the standings but uses the opening of the pitstop window to get this checked out. Benjamin Monnay in ADA 02B (# 106) takes up in the great battle for first place. Olivier Galant (# 1) does not give in under the pressure, deserving his race number!
Saturday’s last race, but not the least: the Sixties ’Endurance grid. It is shortly after 6 p.m. when the 55 cars take to the track and what a start! The Shelbys are in the lead with James Cottingham ahead the grid (# 15), let’s remember just after, three hours ago, winning the Endurance Racing Legends race. As for the second rank, it is between three regulars of the series by Peter Auto: Maxime Guenat (# 51), Urs Beck (# 369) and Leo Ebeling (# 64) who all run in a less than a four-second gap. There was 1h30 of the race left when the Cobra # 168, driven by Pierre-François Rousselot, slept off the track at the fifth corner. Yellow flag. Maxime Guenat also made a mistake a few minutes later and came out at turn 12. He was then third and, without surprise, dropped down the standings. Full course yellow behind leader James Cottingham (# 15) now followed by Leon Ebeling (# 64), Urs Beck (# 369) and Richard Cook (# 72). Resumption of the race after evacuation of the two cars, in complete safety of course. All drivers have now made their mandatory pitstop. There is now less than 45 minutes left and James Cottingham (# 15) is still in the lead. The sun is gradually setting, so the rest of the race will be contested at night. Bit by bit, a car climbs up the rankings. Starting eighteenth, the Lotus 15 (# 160) is now on the third step of the podium; well done to the pilots Michael Birch / Gareth Burnett. They will have to keep up this rank which is lust over by Henry Moser (# 31). At the race lead, the die is not cast. Harvey Stanley (# 72) is in the wake of Max Girardo (# 15) with less than five seconds between the two drivers! The machines are under pressure and you could see a vivid orange glow from the brake discs. Less than ten minutes, the gap between the two drivers is now less than a second. The suspense is at its peak. Change of leader, a few laps later the pit straight but Max Girardo (# 15) does not give up, so the show takes place until the last minute, until the last lap of this Sixties’ Endurance race. The chequered flag rises, Harvey Stanley (# 72) wins this grid’s 2021 season final race.
Heritage Touring Cup
While all the cars are lining up on the grid and the formation lap starts, one car remains static, yet it was second on the starting grid. Guillaume Mahe’s Ford Capri RS 3100 (# 60) is at a complete standstill. The track marshals try to push it, without success. The start of the race must be postponed. We are thinking of a gearbox problem, driver must give up the race. With a few minutes delay, the cars of this grid can finally resume their formation lap and set off for the Heritage Touring Cup unique race in the weekend. Martin Brundle (# 113) kicks off with a superb overtake, the former Formula 1 driver losing no opportunity and thus seizing first place ahead of Stephen Dance (# 116) and Christian Van Riet (# 72). The Belgian driver is right behind the Ford Capri RS (# 116), the gap is less than a second when suddenly Van Riet’s suspension (# 72) gives way and leads him straight into the gravel. The race is placed under a safety car regime pending evacuation. What twists and turns! Resumed with Martin Brundle (# 113) in the lead, Maxime Guenat (# 50) who is chasing for first place, Christian Taber (# 25) is a few seconds behind in a BMW 3.0 CSL. End of the pitstop window. And change of drivers for the # 113 of which Zak Brown takes the wheel not in first but in seventh place. The battle is now between the Ford Capri of Maxime Guenat (# 50), the BMW 3.0 CSL of Christian Traber (# 25) and that of Dominique Guenat (# 49). But the race control announced a penalty for # 49, the driver indeed made a wrong pitstop, an error which will cost him the podium and benefit Yves Scemama (# 152).
Classic Endurance Racing 2
It is time for the Classic Endurance Racing 2 grid to start under the regime of Yves Scemama in Toj SC304 (# 52) who quickly takes the lead, closely followed by Dominique Guenat also in Toj (# 49). Very quickly the two cars found themselves side by side for the first place, a beautiful vision. But that was without counting on the Lola who have an only goal: first place. Thus, Maxime Guenat in T286 (# 50) and Philippe Scemama in SC304 (# 52) take the lead again. The pit stop window opens, the drivers take the opportunity to have their machines checked. Regarding the leading cars, the gap is increasingly reduced between the Toj SC304 (# 52) and the SC303 (# 49) but it is only short-lived, Yves Scemama (# 52) flies away and comes to challenge the leader. There are less than ten minutes of racing left and the gap is only eight seconds between the two drivers. At the same time, another competitor has made a good comeback: Frank Morel in Toj also (# 131). He overtook three times in a single lap and placed himself just behind Dominique Guenat (# 49) who remained unperturbed and maintained his position.
It’s the 2.0L Cup’s turn to hit the track. The 13 cars are placed on the grid, the engines start. Remember that they are identical across the board; only the talents of the pilots will make the difference. Marc Sumpter (# 12) opens the race, followed by Xavier Dayraut (# 37) and Marc Siebenthal (# 16). From the first corner, the latter takes the inside and immediately comes second. He was nevertheless very quickly overtaken by the # 37. Marc Siebenthal (# 16) loses seconds over the laps, he is now fourth. Armando Simoes (# 10) does not let go and it is a beautiful duel which the public witnesses between the two drivers. A duel in which the Portuguese driver emerges victorious until the pit stop window opens. After the change of driver, Damien Kohler (# 16) resumed the duel and came to recover this famous fourth place. But it does not stop there. Less than 30 minutes from the end, he secures the third step of the podium, a ranking he was unable to secure.
Classic Endurance Racing 1
Things don’t always go according to plan. At least that’s what Marc Devis (#11) must be thinking. He was first on the Classic Endurance Racing grid when the race control gave the start for the formation lap, conditioning for the flying start of this CER 2 unique race of the weekend when suddenly he had a problem with his right front wheel which forced him to go back to the pits instead of starting. This setback dropped him to the standings bottom but he tried to make it up with his McLaren M8C. It was Armand Mille who led the pack in the Lola T212 (#35) followed by Toni Seiler in the Lola T70 MkIIIB. Unlike Marc Devis, Steve Brooks (#159) started last and is now in second place with 40 minutes to go. Incredibly, 28 overtakes in only 20 minutes! Unsurprisingly, he attacked Armand Mille (#35) several times. But the Lola 212 (#35) and its driver resisted. As of Emmanuel Brigand in the Chevron B19 (#97), he did not intend to remain sixth either and reached fourth ranking with less than 20 minutes to go. In front of him, John Emberson (#25) has just been placed under investigation by the race control regarding his mandatory pitstop. He was given a six-second penalty, which reduced the gap to Emmanuel Brigand (#97) to seven seconds. Not enough to secure the third place…
End of this Estoril Classics and of this 2021 season! The 2022 program will be unveiled during the month of October following Formula 1 announcement. But in the meantime, we are pleased to announce that Peter Auto will be present at the Total Energies 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps organized by SRO with a support race from the Endurance Racing Legends grid which will bring together around sixty GT1s, GT2s and GT3s. A collaboration with Stéphane Ratel, celebrating the thirty years of SRO’s involvement in the GT championship.