It was this weekend that we watched the grand final of Group 1 Portugal and the Mini Trophy. The competitions organized and promoted by Touring Racing took place in the classic 250km of Estoril.
With 45 cars on the starting grid, the largest ever in the history of the competition for this race, Touring Racing completed its first year with a flourish, in a 2-hour race where excitement was not lacking for a single second.
In the H81-2000, the big “mug” went to the duo of Ricardo Pereira and Paulo Vieira who on Sunday morning were the fastest, gaining Pole Position which they managed to convert into maximum points in the afternoon race, with the bonus of the point of fastest return to Pereira. However, Pereira/Vieira’s party was also a reason for celebration for Rui Ribeiro, who celebrated winning the title! (Succeeding Ricardo Pereira who won in 2022). Rui Ribeiro knew that he only needed to stay behind Pereira as long as there was no other competitor between them and when there were just 5 minutes left before the checkered flag fell, the vast field was neutralized by the Safety Car and Ribeiro, who shared the Ford Escort RS 2000 with Rui Salgado, he was in third place in the classification with Ricardo Pereira in the lead and Francisco Freitas in second place, it was not enough for Ribeiro to win the title. Even when the green flag waved, the car of Francisco Freitas / Luís Pedro Liberal / Steve Soper began to fail and the trio in #516 were forced to pull over when they were about to try to take the lead by storm, a heartbreaking moment for Curator Garage on the one hand and a moment of euphoria for Rui Ribeiro’s team! A title decided in the last laps of the last race of the year, which by the way is the biggest of the year!
In third place finished Bruno Lima, who in his debut year showed great growth and a tremendous adaptation to the Ford Escort RS2000, one of the strong candidates for victories in 2024. Luís Pedro Liberal / Francisco Freitas / Steve Soper were placed fourth, a result which does not reflect the team’s excellent progress throughout the weekend. The trio was ahead of Manuel Almeida / António Pires Cleto, Félix Ribeiro and Henrique Correia in the Porsche 924 and Nuno Breda and João Moreira in the Ford Escort RS 2000. Nuno Afoito and João Mira Gomes did not qualify due to mechanical problems in the powerful Ford Escort RS2000.
In H81-Max, André Castro Pinheiro and Ernesto Vieira triumphed in celebrating the Fresco brothers’ title. The Jaguar XJS V12 duo dominated the category throughout the weekend, achieving the fastest times in every session, however the British car began to suffer from brake problems in the middle of the race, making the duo’s task more complicated. . However, the Pinheiro/Vieira duo took the loud Jaguar to the checkered flag, winning the biggest race of the year. In second place is the Ford Capri MKIII of António and José Fresco, who celebrated their Tri-Championship today! The brothers from Mira would gain the points needed to win the title if they finished, and they did so ahead of Miguel Sardo and Diogo Cavaco in the Porsche 924, third in the category.
Among the H81-1600, victory smiled at Rafael Cerveira Pinto and António Liberal. The duo supported by RP Motorsport triumphed ahead of Marcos Ruão and Nuno Pardalejo in the VW Sirocco. Not being strange faces in category victories, Cerveira Pinto and Liberal repeated the previous year’s triumph in the same race and still beat their best time of 2022 by 4 tenths.
In third place in the category, Manuel Cabral Menezes and Manuel de Mello Breyner, in a VW Golf GTI MKI, managed to complete the podium after a difficult race and thus celebrate the title of winner of the category. For Manuel de Mello Breyner this achievement was special, as the experienced driver won in a similar car, the National Gr N championship, 40 years ago. Carlos Graça was fourth ahead of Carlos Matos and Nuno Matos, all in VW Golf MKI.
In H71-1300, the Frenchmen Stéphane Codet and Franck Julien were delighted with the great resistance of Group 1, wanting to repeat it next year. In the H71-1600, François Guerin and Diogo Santos in the BMW 1600 Ti were the big winners of the category in front of the Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 of João Miguel Ribeiro and Miguel Ribeiro who completed the category. In H81-1300 the fierce fight between the Toyota Starlet of Rui Moura and the Renault 5 of José Familiar and Pedro Diogo was shortened to the regret of the many fans present. First the Renault 5 was forced to abandon due to a mechanical failure and then the Toyota Starlet did not avoid an immediate encounter with the protective barriers of the Estoril Circuit. In the end Rui Moura celebrated the category title, but with a bittersweet taste as the driver would have liked to have been able to see the checkered flag.
In the 1052, victory came to Tillos Jacques and Lariau Frédéric in a Peugeot 104 ZS, the French duo from Trisport ahead of João Neves and Cândido Monteiro in the Seat Panda 4S of the same team. Carlos Maciel and Carlos Aniceto in the Morris Mini were third, beating the Autobianchi A112 Abarth of Abel Marques and Sérgio Monteiro who completed the “small” category.
At the Production Cup, there was no shortage of entertainment! Rubén Ferreira and Pedro Gordo closed the year with a flourish. The pair won the two-hour race and thus celebrated their first title in the category. But if it seemed easy, you’re wrong, Rubén Ferreira had excellent fights with César Machado that left everyone’s nerves on edge as they were so close that the two were spinning around without ever touching. Chapeau!
In second place in the category, the duo of Fernando Ventura and Paulo Cunha beat one of the favorite pairs of Alberto Xavier and César Machado for the middle spot on the podium.
Francisco Marrão and his “Crazy Cow” were placed fourth ahead of João Posser, Luís Santa Bárbara / Manuel Matos, Jorge Rodrigues/ Jorge Lobo and the pairs Miguel Matias / Marco Pinto, Guilherme Costa / Gonçalo Matias and Vasco and Vitor Sampaio . Ricardo Marcelino was unable to finish the race.
Text: Touring Racing