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2023 Estoril Classics
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Season finale
A busy 2023 Historic Racing by Peter season, that started back in April at Mugello, came to a close in October with the Estoril Classics. Organised by Peter Auto together with local specialists Race Ready, the event has been a set fixture on the calendar since 2020. Following the successful formula established during the first edition, the Estoril Classics combines the Peter Auto grids with a special Formula 1 Group as a tribute to the dozen years in 1980s and 1990s that the Circuito Estoril hosted the Portuguese Grand Prix. That meant that the very dedicated Portuguese enthusiasts were treated to races with 1950s sports cars through to prototypes and GT cars that raced at Le Mans as recent as 2010, as well as legendary Formula 1 cars like the Lotus 78 and Williams FW07.
We ventured to the Circuito Estoril once more to capture the season finale in its entirety. This has resulted in this class-by-class 200-shot gallery.

Two sunsets for the price of one
Arguably the most hotly disputed race of the weekend was the two-hour Sixties' Endurance, which was scheduled for the early evening of Saturday. Not only was the race victory on the line, the championship was also still up for grasps for Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahe in one Cobra, and Richard Cook and Harvey Stanley in another. Not only was the race run during sunset, as was qualifying on Friday evening. The fastest time was set by the Cobra shared by Philip Kadoorie and Seb Perez but due to a four-place grid penalty it was the Lotus 15 of Michael Birch and Luke Stevens that actually started from first on the grid. During the opening laps, Kadoorie showed just why he had been fastest a day earlier. He grabbed the lead and Perez drove it home to score a well deserved win. Behind them, the championship battle had swung in favour of the Guenat and Mahe Cobra after Stanley had received a time penalty due to passing under yellow. Guenat was not aware and tried to get ahead of Stanley in the closing stages of the race, and made a mistake. That gave Stanley the edge but the penalty still saw him drop off the podium. Having been swamped by the Cobras at the start, the diminutive Lotus 15 held its own and finished an impressive second ahead of the Cobra Daytona shared by Armand Mille and Yves Scemama.

Classic Endurance Racing
With its long straights and tight corners, the Circuito Estoril is suited to both the big-banger Lola T70s and two-litre Chevron B19s that feature on the sharp end of the Classic Endurance Racing 1 field. In qualifying, the T70s seemed to have the edge, filling the top three positions with Emile Breittmayer clinching pole position. The race turned out to be another matter, with most T70s suffering reliability issues. This cleared the path for a complete two-litre podium that included a pair of B19s and a Lola T212. Taking the last CER1 victory of the season was Rolf Sigrist in his B19. Finishing sixth overall and first in the GT1 class was Detlef von der Lieck and Ralf Kelleners.
In CER2, it was business as usual with Maxime Guenat and Yves Scemama sweeping the front row in their three-litre engined, Equipe Europe prepared Lola T286 and TOJ SC304 respectively. In the race, the two Swiss drivers made no mistakes. The final podium position was filled by John Emberson and Nigel Greensall after a spirited drive with the 'Chocolate Drop' Chevron B26. In GT2, McLaren CEO Zak Brown and his United Autosports partner took top honours with the unique Porsche 935 JLP-3.

Endurance Racing Legends
Despite being the last race of the season, at a relatively distant race track, the Endurance Racing Legends race was oversubscribed. The grid for 1990s and 2000s Le Mans Prototypes and GT racers has gone from strength through strength throughout the season. Among the star cars entered this meeting were the Vodafone liveried Maserati MC12 and a trio of Aston Martin DBR9s. Shared by Evgeny Kireev and Ramzan Orusbaev, the V12-engined Maserati was easily the fastest in qualifying, beating all prototypes.
In the first of two 40-minute races, Kireev and Orusbaev made no mistakes in their fire-spitting Maserati. Mike Newton finished second in the MG-Lola EX264 that he had driven to a pair of LMP2 class wins back in 2005 and 2006. The final podium step was filled by Marc Jully, piloting the distinct Keiler K II, which was built on one of the last Chevron prototype chassis.
Held on Sunday morning, the second race was a different matter with the Maserati being penalised. That allowed Newton to claim victory ahead of Richard Meins in his Aston Martin DBR9 and the very quick Sebastian Glaser with his Porsche 911 GT2.

Classic Grand Prix
The grandstands were packed for the two 20-minute Classic Grand Prix races. A colourful field of 1970s and 1980s Formula 1 car consisted of Cosworth DFV V8 powered examples with only one exception; the Alfa Romeo 182 F1 of Richard Hope. Sadly a gearbox issue prevented the striking Marlboro-livered machine from taking the start of either race. There were no such issues for the distinct Ligier JS21 that was driven by professional racer Soheil Ayari. His company had restored the car himself for the owner, who is a great Ligier enthusiast. After a troublesome 2022 Estoril Classics, the car was now truly on song. In qualifying the Frenchman was over 1.5 seconds faster than Jamie Constable in a Tyrrell 011. That dominance was carried over in the races with Ayari winning the first one with a 26-second margin and the second with a gap of 30 seconds. Japanese racer Katsu Kubota placed an impressive second overall with his earlier Lotus 72, which bagged him the Class A win. In Race 2, Mark Hazell was second with his Williams FW08, which had crashed out of the first heat but was clearly properly repaired.

Final Thoughts
It was another great finish to a long season in the lovely Cascais region of Portugal. The action-packed weekend was attended by a 30,000-strong crowd. The 2024 Historic Racing by Peter Auto calendar has already been published and includes another edition Estoril Classics. To help you get through the long winter, you can spend at least a few minutes browsing our 200-shot gallery.

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