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Historic Endurance: Electrifying Race Finish at Estoril Classics

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

The Estoril Classics 2023 event concluded on a high note, with the Iberian Historic Endurance race taking center stage. In an electrifying fifty-minute showdown, Bruno Santos outperformed a field of forty-four remarkable classic cars to secure his first victory in the prestigious classic car competition on the Iberian Peninsula.

The Autodromo do Estoril witnessed a sold-out crowd as enthusiastic fans gathered to be part of one of Europe's premier motorsport festivals for classic cars. The Historic Endurance race, held this weekend in partnership with Liqui Moly, lived up to the lofty expectations.

A riveting qualifying session on Saturday set the stage for the thrilling race. The front row of the starting grid featured the Merlyn Mk4 of Carlos Barbot and Pedro Matos alongside the Porsche 911 3.0 RS driven by Bruno Santos. Notably, the second row was occupied by the two Ford GT40s, helmed by Paulo Lima and Christian Oldenhorff, while the Porsche 911 3.0 RS, expertly driven by Pedro Bastos Rezende and Cláudio Vieira, secured the third position.

The first part of the race provided several points of interest and four different leaders until the mandatory pit stop. At the start, the first two on the grid were overtaken by the two Ford GT40s on the second row. Paulo Lima took the lead in the early stages, but was eventually overtaken by Bruno Santos. However, the Porsche wouldn't stay at the top of the standings for long either, as German Christian Oldenhorff, who swapped his Alfa Romeo GTAm for the even more powerful Ford GT40, took the lead of the race.

The compulsory pit stop once again shuffled the top spots, with the Porsche of Bruno Santos, Pedro Bastos Rezende and Cláudio Vieira, in that order, taking the top three positions in the race. Slightly further back, the two GT40s of Paulo Lima and Christian Oldenhorff fought an exciting battle with the Merlyn MK4 for fourth place and top spot in the GTP & Sportscar class. If the Deaborn cars were faster at top speed, the Merlyn was much more effective in the twisty areas of the Cascais circuit, allowing the Carlos Barbot/Pedro Matos team to set the fastest lap of the race on the 13th pass.

With seven minutes to go, a Safety Car situation brought the pack back together for a final one-lap sprint around the Estoril track. Bruno Santos didn't feel the pressure of coming out on top and stood out from the rest, taking his Porsche across the finish line in first position to win the H-1976 class. Pedro Bastos Rezende got the better of Cláudio Vieira in the fight for second place, but the latter was later penalised. Mário Meireles and Vasco Nina, in a Porsche 911 2.8 RS, took the podium in the H-1976 class with three cars prepared by Aurora Motorsport, the sports arm of Garagem Aurora.

In the second pack, the Merlyn Mk4 of Carlos Barbot/Pedro Matos overtook the two Ford GT40s in the last thrilling moments of the race to win the GTP & Sportscar class. Christian Oldenhorff, who had a scare just before the stoppage when he spun, was second, while Paulo Lima was third, in a weekend in which he showed enormous progress with a car he is still discovering.

In the qualifying session, the Shelby Cobra Daytona of French-speaking duo Brice Pineau / Olivier Muytjens was the fastest in the H-1965 class, but in the race, Andy Newall and Rhea Sautter, in a turquoise 1961 Jaguar E-Type, led for much of the race. However, the Anglo-German duo had an entertaining race, with successive exchanges of positions with Palle Pedersen and his Ginetta G4R. However, at the end of the race they were at the mercy of the Shelby Cobra Daytona, which ended up being stronger and winning in the H-1965 class. Also in the same class, Thorkild Stamp and Michael Holden were third in the Porsche 904/6 prepared in Portugal by Raul Cunha Vintage Garage.

Volker Hichert and Björn Ebsen, in Alfa Romeo GTAm, celebrated a well-deserved triumph in the H-1971 class, followed by Franck Biraben, in Porsche 911 R. Jorge Guimarães, in his Volvo 121, turned his resilience and consistency into a podium finish in one of the liveliest races of the season.

The Gentleman Drivers Spirit (GDS) class once again brought together a wide range of participants but saw the absolute dominance of the Porsche 911 SWBs, which took the top three places. The duo of Nuno Nunes and Piero dal Maso were the strongest and won, with the remaining podium places going to Pedro Moryion/José Carvalhosa and Carlos Beltran, in that order.

The weekend didn't end without the winner of the Index of Performance being awarded an exclusive watch from Cuervo y Sobrinos, the historic Swiss watch brand considered to be the only genuine one with an authentic and proven Latin heritage. The winner of this classification, not the one who crosses the finish line first, but the one who delivers the best performance on the track according to the age, cylinder capacity and body type of his car, was Frenchman Vincent Tourneur in a Porsche 356 SC.

The thrills of Historic Endurance racing return in a fortnight' time as part of the Jerez Historic Festival programme, at the Jerez-Ángel Nieto Circuit, from 20 to 22 October.


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