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2020 Estoril Classics
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Season finale
For the third and already final round of the shortened 2020 Peter Auto season, the popular series ventured just about as far west as one can go on the European continent. The destination of the journey was the beautiful Cascais region of Portugal and the Autódromo do Estoril. Although it is not entirely new addition to the organisation, the last time Peter Auto ventured to the track was back in 2011 when the Classic Endurance Racing series still served to support the Le Mans Series. The 2020 Estoril Classics was staged with the help of very enthusiastic local organisers, who pulled out all the stops. Sadly, due to the ever stricter COVID-19 pandemic related restrictions, no public was allowed in to enjoy the spectacle on display. This included most of the familiar Peter Auto grids, complemented by the local Iberian Historic Endurance and Classic Grand Prix races.
In what was our first ever visit to the Estoril circuit, we did our best to explore the many opportunities and angles offered, which can be enjoyed in our 150-shot gallery.

Nail biting two hours
Usually hotly disputed, the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race at Estoril was certainly no exception. With over three dozen cars entered, it also featured one of the weekend's biggest grids. While the race was scheduled to finish just after the sun had set, qualifying was held right at dusk and provided a real challenge for the drivers. In what was a particularly close 40-minuted session, qualifying saw the first four cars, all Cobras, separated by less than three tenths of a second. While the second through fourth placed cars all sported the slippery 'Daytona' style body, the Cobra on pole, shared by David Hart and Nicky Pastorelli, was a more familiar Roadster. Early in the race, it was the Cobra Daytona shared by Olivier and Xavier Galant that grabbed the lead with another father son combination of Yvan and Guillaume Mahe also running at the front with a Cobra Roadster. Following the pit stops, it was Erwin France, who had taken over from his father Pierre-Alain that emerged in the lead in their Cobra Daytona. He was chased hard in the final laps of the race by pole-sitter Pastorelli but some technical issues prevented the Dutch pairing from posing a real challenge. In the end, Erwin France crossed the line little over a second ahead of Pastorelli.

Grand Prix Celebration
The Estoril circuit is perhaps best known for hosting the Portuguese Grand Prix during the 1980s and and 1990s. It was the track where Ayrton Senna famously won his first Formula 1 race back in 1985. To celebrate that part of the track's history, the Estoril Classics also featured a dedicated race for Grand Prix cars up to 1986. Despite the travel restrictions, ten cars were scrambled together for the two 20-minute races. Although not particularly big, the field featured some interesting cars like a rare Ligier JS11 and one of the Lola T370s built for Graham Hill's Embassy team. There, however, was no stopping Michael Lyons in his family's Hesketh 308E with the ever evocative Penthouse livery. He started on pole for both races and on each occasion managed to convert that into a victory.
Another series not usually at Peter Auto events was for the Iberian Historic Endurance, which held a 50-minute race to close out the weekend. With 39 starters, it featured the biggest and also most colourful field of the meeting. Taking the victory was Olivier Galant in his GT40, beating Michiel Campagne and Allard Kalff in their Grand Sport Corvette by a healthy margin.

Sports car spectacle
Among the grids most affected by the ever tighter travel restrictions were those of the Classic Endurance Racing and Group C Racing. Only 13 cars were entered for the Classic Endurance Racing 1 race compared to 51 at Paul Ricard less than three months earlier for example. Present at both were Hart and Pastorelli in the former's Lola T70. While they started from pole at Paul Ricard, they had to settle for second at Estoril. It did not make much difference as they scored their third victory in a row in what was a real race of attrition.
For the CER2 race, two of the fastest cars saw their laps removed due to track limits issues. This made for a particularly exciting race that eventually saw pole sitter Yves Scemama challenged for victory by Francisco Lara Resende, who had started from the back. Eventually it was Scemama's TOJ that managed to clinch victory ahead of the Brazilian's Chevron.
Among the Group C entrants was McLaren CEO Zak Brown, who shared his Jaguar XJR-10 with three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti. Sadly, technical issues curtailed the car's weekend. Both of the 45-races instead were won by Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac in their Porsche 962C.

Final thoughts
The Estoril Classics was clearly badly affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. With travel restrictions being tightened just days before the event, some participants opted to withdraw at the very last minute. It was a real shame as the event was beautifully staged and certainly deserved more visitors and participants. Fortunately, the event will be on the Peter Auto calendar for the next two seasons. To see you what you missed out on and why you should join in 2021, sit back and enjoy our 150-shot gallery.

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com