Back on track.jpg

Back on track

By Skip Bandele [email protected]

Today (Friday), tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday sees the GP2 Series as well as the latest FIA-GT1 and GT2 World Championship stages starring at the International Algarve Motor Park near Portimão. The GP2 races, regarded as the main proving ground for young drivers aspiring to graduate to Formula One, will feature Portugal’s own Alvaro Parente and his Ocean Racing Technology team as part of a truly international event.

In this context the AIA International Automobile Association is also hoping to sufficiently impress the Formula One Management body with both its organisational skills and local facilities this weekend to pave the way for a possible return of motor racing’s crème-de-la-crème to this country.

Britain’s current world champion Lewis Hamilton, a frequent visitor to his parent’s Algarve holiday home, is a strong and vocal supporter of a renewed Grand Prix of Portugal, last seen in Estoril almost 20 years ago.

At the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve the F1 ‘taster’ beginning today will have each event consisting of two races during which the first eight placements after the first start in reverse order for the second, really putting the emphasis on driving skills as each of the 26 drivers must rely on more or less identical cars – this makes the GP2 category one of the most competitive in Europe, at present second only in terms of performance to F1 itself.

No less exciting for motor racing fans is the Grand Turismo supporting programme, which will have Portugal’s Miguel Ramos hoping to enjoy more success than his compatriots during last weekend’s GT3 and GT4 European Championship meeting at the same location. Then the overall second-placed Manuel Rodrigues saw his title hopes evaporate in the sun after having to abandon in mid-race while César Campaniço only managed a lowly 15th finish behind German Audi duo Mies/ Hasse.

Next month’s climax to the 2009 racing season at the new Motor Park features both the Algarve Historic Festival and the eagerly awaited October 23, 24 and 25 grande finale to the World Superbikes and Supersport Championships with all eyes on the home Parkalgar Honda team’s title contender Eugene Laverty.