At the races!

The International Autodrome of the Algarve (AIA), otherwise known as the Portimão Motor Park, is the venue of the biggest racing weekend of the year to date next Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 27, 28 and 29).

The track’s principal event over the three days is the opening round of the 2012 International Grand Tourism season which will continue in such locations as Germany, Belgium, England, France, Hungary, Italy or Spain over the coming months.

This will be the third time in the seven years of the competition’s existence that these Championships are being held at the newly created Parkalgar race track in the extreme south of Portugal.

The GT2 and GT3 races are open to both professional and ‘gentlemen’ drivers and feature two teams flying the Portuguese colours.

Miguel Ramos and co-pilot Raffaele Giammaria in their Ferrari 458 GT2 represent the 2011 winning combination while Antonio Coimbra’s McLaren MP4-12C GT3 will be challenging for honours in the other category.

Both will face strong opposition from rival stables of which Porsche, Aston Martin, Audi, Mercedes and Ford are the principals.  But GT is not the only excitement on the menu. The 12-race programme also features the Formula 2 and European F3 classes providing a first-hand view of top up-and-coming young drivers many of which will progress to become established F1 stars within a few years.

Furthermore, racetrack organisers are instigating a novelty ‘lap parade’ which will allow any paddock ticket holder to take to the state-of-the-art circuit in their own vehicles at times still to be arranged on both the Friday and Saturday.

Tickets for the weekend are available at the racetrack box office at a 15% discount until this Sunday the 22nd while local parish residents enjoy admittance free of charge.