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Dutch Triumph at the Return of the Estoril 500km

Cor Euser and Jeroen van den Heuvel inscribed their names in the Estoril 500 kilometre record books by winning this year's edition of the traditional race at the Autódromo do Estoril, despite a scare right from the start.

The start of the race that closed this year's Portuguese racing season was eagerly awaited because, although the pole-position winners were tipped as the big favourites, strategy and reliability would have an important impact on the course of the race and could be decisive for the final outcome.

And indeed, after making a strong start, Cor Euser and Jeroen van den Heuvel had an initial setback that cost them almost two laps when they suffered a puncture to the front-right tyre of their BMW M3 E46.

There was then an all-out battle between the two Ginetta G40s, the Volvo 850 and the TRS Honda Civic Type-R which, until the first pit stops, were almost always separated by less than three seconds, with the Estoril Endurance Festival crowd witnessing several lead changes.

However, the Cor Euser Racing duo set a very strong pace, climbing the rankings and, when the clock struck the first hour of the race, they were already in first place, chased by the two Ginetta G40s that this year were part of the FPAK Junior Team in the Iberian Supercars Endurance.

While the Dutch team's BMW built up a comfortable lead to victory in the Estoril 500 km, the two English cars battled for second place, swapping positions several times, also due to the 'flavour' of the pit stops.

However, in the final half hour of the race, the car shared by Pedro Poças, Manuel Almeida, Ricardo Gomes, Miguel Quintanilha and Tiago Raposo Magalhães abandoned with technical problems, leaving Nuno Breda, Paulo Vieira, Pedro Reis Ferreira and João Moreira more relaxed in second place, where they crossed the finish line.

The #103 Ginetta G40's problems allowed the TRS Honda Civic Type-R to climb to the bottom step of the podium, allowing Hugo Marcos, Flávio Santos and Filipe Barreto to still win the Trophy 2000 class. In the next position was another car from the Japanese brand, but entered by RP Motorsport for Tomás Ribeiro, LMP3 driver Guilherme Oliveira, Alexandre Areia and João Moutinho.

The Racing Engineers Peugeot 309 GTI was very consistent throughout the three hours and this earned José Cruz, Pedro Boa-Alma, José Mil-Homens and Francisco Teixeira sixth place overall and third place among the Trophy 2000 class competitors.

The French car finished the race two seconds behind CRM Motorsport's KIA Picanto, shared by Moura Teixeira and Francisco Marrão, who won the Trophy 1000 class with a considerable lead over Garagem João Gomes' Citroën C1, shared by Duarte Farinha, António Reis and José Carvalhosa.

The FIAT Punto 85S from Garagem João Leite also had a very creditable race, running consistently and without any technical problems, with Pedro Barbosa, Nuno Pinheiro and Nelson Resende triumphing in the Trophy 1400 class after seeing the chequered flag in ninth place behind the Volvo 850 and the Ford Puma, both from Monteiro Competições.

The Swedish car driven by António Gago, Rui Miritta and Nuno Mousinho Esteves, was first in the Trophy Unlimited class and was fighting for the top positions in the early stages of the race, but gearbox problems slowed it down.

Marco Martins, Rui Filipe, José Cruz and João Mendes made a great sacrifice at the controls of their Datsun 1200. The Japanese car had a few technical problems, but the quartet managed to cross the finish line with great effort.

Cor Euser and Jeroen van den Heuvel thus marked the history of the Estoril 500 km in gold, becoming the first all-foreign team to win the race that traditionally ends the Portuguese Speedway season.


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