By Phil Egginton
While Vettel, Alonso, Webber and Hamilton fought out the final F1 round in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve was host to an equally exciting mix of motorsport.
Saturday and Sunday daytime saw the final rounds of the Portuguese Racing Weekend championships, including the GT and Sports Prototype Championship, Classic Cars (under 1300cc and over) and the Ford Transit Trophy.
The two one-hour GT and Sports Prototypes races were dominated overall by the semi works Novadriver Audi R8 GT3 car of César Campaniço and João Figueiredo.
Having already got a class win in Spanish GT, the team topped their success with an overall win of the national championship. Local interest centred on four cars in this race.
Firstly, Loulé’s Tony Calado was trying hard for a class win in his Radical SR3 sports prototype. Steve Worrad of AIA-based Algarve Racing Services had moved up to a Ginetta G50 GT4 car for the weekend. Finally, AIA CEO Paulo Pinheiro and World Supersports rider Miguel Praia were entered in BMW M3 GT4 and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo GT4 respectively.
Paulo was partnered by Roger Green, features editor of EVO the UK-based quality and performance car magazine. Despite starting from the pit lane for race one on Saturday, Pinheiro and Green managed to claw their way back through the field to second in class.
Unfortunately, a blown engine meant a short race for Praia. Local interest was dominated on Saturday by Steve Worrad. Unlike many others, Worrad chose to drive the whole race himself and emerged from the car totally exhausted at the chequered flag.
A dominant performance meant he finished first in class despite a hard ‘shove’ to the rear from another car.
Sunday saw the BMW of Pinheiro and Green (pictured) this time dominating the GT4 class with Worrad recovering from an early spin to take second in class. Calado managed a very worthy third in class despite being forced to use an unfamiliar car for this race.
The aerobatic biplane which had entertained the crowds at the recent Historic Festival returned to entertain before the start of the Ford Transit trophy.
The plane even raced the vans around the circuit for their first flying lap, much to the entertainment of the crowd!
Saturday evening saw the main straight of the circuit transformed into a super special rally stage for the Rallye Casinos do Algarve.
The rally cars entertained the grandstand filling capacity crowd with a mix of slides, drifts and other spectacular tyre smoking action. The crowd were further entertained by demonstrations from the circuit based Kart Club, Racing School cars, Peninsula Motorsport’s Westfield and Algarve Racing Services’ brutal and noisy Nascar!
To top off the weekend, the Kartódromo Internacional Algarve saw the final rounds of the Portuguese karting championships
Overall a very busy and entertaining weekend and we look forward to more action like this in 2011.