Fifth Round: EstorilIn double-quick time, just two weeks after Silverstone, the Classic Endurance Racing was back again under the spotlights of Estoril close to Lisbon in Portugal.
Beyond the destination, which was a first time for the series after a race in Algarve in 2009, all drivers were looking forward to discovering one of the most beautiful tracks of the season. Stage of the Formula One World Championship from 1984 to 1996, Estoril alternates between technical sections and long straight lines with a speed close to 290km/h for the fastest prototypes!35 cars were looking forward to compete in the last race of the season before the big final in October at the Paul Ricard HTTT. If Claude Le Jean on Chevron B36, Olivier Cazalières on Chevron B16 Mazda and Richard Mille on Lola T70 MK III B are well known on the CER starting grid, we were pleased to see the return of Jean-Marc Luco with the unique Ligier JS3, Mr John of B at the steering wheel of his Ferrari 512 BBLM or the famous American driver Bobby Rahal on a Lola T212.
Three regional crews were also enrolled in the race with Manuel Monteiro (Chevron B16 BMW), Ribeirinho Soares (Porsche 934) and Carlos Barbot (Lola T280) who gained the best time during the first qualifying session… but his dream won't last longer than the night!
Saturday morning, the English tandem Kevin Wilkins and Mike Catlow took advantage over the grid with an amazing time of 1:41.288 leaving the other drivers very far behind. They certainly found the perfect setup for their splendid Toj SC 302!
On Saturday afternoon, in bright sunshine, the drivers started their one-hour race.Among the 27 cars at the start, Carlos Barbot surprised both leaders at the first curve and quickly imposed his Lola T280 in first place. One of the best competitions was certainly in the proto 2 category with a fierce battle between Dominique Guenat’s Lola T286, the Lola T280 of Michel uiniou and Frédéric Da Rocha's Lola T298. Brilliant during the whole race, they fought intensely during an hour in perfect respect of the Gentleman drivers' digest.
In GT2, at the steering wheel of his Porsche 935, Maurice Basso imposed his rhythm against Mr John of B on Ferrari 512 BBLM.
Third with over one lap behind, Philipp Brunn closes the podium with honour. In the GT1 category, we can note with pleasure the performance of Christopher Ball after his splendid victory at Silverstone. Always very fast with his Ford GT 40, he imposes his car in the first place however not without big difficulty in front of the Porsche 911 3.0l RSR of Juan Pablo Orjuela and the other one with "Toblerone" colours of Didier Denat.
The Proto 1 category (1966-1972) was also very intense. Always fast and more agile than Proto 2 (1973-1979), the "small" Chevron B16 and Lola T212 did verywell during the race. Much experimented driver Bobby Rahal finishes the race at the top of his category. Not very far behind him the powerful Lola T70 of Bernard Thuner and Olivier Cazalieres' Chevron B16 took the second and third place.
In the general classification, Kevin Wilkins managed a great feat. In the last lap he overtook the Lola T280 of Carlos Barbot who finally had to satisfy himself with the second step of the podium for his national race. By his side, Dominique Guenat confirms with this third place that he is now the fastest driver of the Ecurie Europe Team.
After this leap in the dark in Portugal, the sixth meeting of the season will be held on the famous Paul Ricard HTTT circuit during the Dix Mille Tours by Peter Auto. The appointment is already made in a fortnight in the South of France with two CER grids (CER 1 GT1/P1 and CER 2 GT2/P2)… and already more than 80 cars on the entry list!