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Historic racing festival returns to the Algarve

By PHIL EGGINTON [email protected]

The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve was host for the third consecutive year last weekend to the largest historic motor sport festival ever held in Iberia.

Growing from previous years, the event now lasts for four full days in total, Thursday and Friday being taken up with practice and Saturday and Sunday packed with a full programme of racing.

Cars entered numbered more than 320 with more drivers, as many races called for two drivers per car. All in all a fine tribute to organiser Francisco Santos and his team.

A diverse history of motor sport from pre war through to the 1980s was represented in both closed wheel, open wheel and GT/saloon “tin top” forms.

Once again the FIA Historic Formula 1 championship was present with a range of F1 cars from Jackie Stewarts old Tyrell 002 from 1971 up to a couple of splendid McLaren MP4/1B driven in 1982 by Niki Lauda and John Watson.

New for this year were Group C, Historic F2/F3 and Group 2/A saloons. Other races included pre war sports cars, 70s sports cars, 60s touring cars, Pre 66 and Pre 61 Formula One, Formula Junior and a variety of sports car classes including the third running of the Stirling Moss Trophy for 1950s sportscars.


Group C racing provided thrilling sports prototype racing during the 1980s, including of course the infamous Le Mans 24 hour race. At the time dominated by Porsche and the 956/962 models, but today the field is a good mix of diverse makes.

The Mercedes C11 of Bob Berridge proving dominant in practice and race (which lasted 60 mins) finishing over half a minute ahead of the second placed Spice SE89 of Andy and Peter Meyrick.

The speed of these cars was proved by the fact that the winning cars fastest lap times were within half a second of the Historic Formula 1 cars! The fast moving Ferrari-powered Lancia LC2 of Henrik Lindberg unfortunately spinning off early on bringing a short safety car period. The ex-USA based Group 44 Jaguar XJR5 of Don Miles suffered an unfortunate tyre blow at high speed on the main straight putting paid to its race.

The Group 2 saloon race proved more fortunate for the Coventry based make with the ex TWR Jaguar XJS of Alex Buncombe and Gary Pearson taking first place from John Young/Andrew Smith’s flying “Batmobile” BMW 3.0CSL.

The FIA ‘Official’ Historic Formula 1 championship was visiting the Algarve for the second time. Two races, one of 8 laps on Saturday and the feature race of 15 laps on Sunday.

Races were started by the colourful official starter, John Felix, who is very well known within motorsport, also being the starter for the Goodwood Revival races. Both proved exciting with Hideki Yamauchi’s March 761 dominating the sprint race. The feature race was won by Nathan Kinch’s McLaren MP4 after early challenges from Bobbie Verdon-Roe in a similar McLaren and Joaquin Folch in a Brabham BT49 faded.


The Stirling Moss Trophy race commenced as the sun faded on Saturday evening, the cars finishing with lights blazing reminiscent of more modern Le Mans Series races. The “Knobbly” Lister of Alex Buncombe and Gary Pearson taking the chequered flag only some 22 seconds ahead of the similar car of Jon Minshaw and Martin Stretton after two hard hours of racing.

Also enduring a two hour race were the 1960s GT and Sports Cars. This time the magnificent sounding 4.7ltr AC Cobra of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield came home first nearly one lap ahead.

The race featured some splendid examples of period sports cars including many “lightweight” E Type Jaguars and other AC Cobra’s. Also notable were two examples of rare racing Morgans. Only three were ever made featuring aerodynamic streamlined bodies in paper thin aluminium. The splendid bare aluminium example of John Emberson winning its class.

Award for the most podium finishes over the weekend must go to Simon Hadfield, who has been a keen historic racer for over 25 years. He won 1960s GT Cars, 1000KM Pre72 Prototypes and Y2TC saloon races.

The four-day festival was hailed a success. Photos: AUTÓDROMO INTERNACIONAL DO ALGARVE
The four-day festival was hailed a success. Photos: AUTÓDROMO INTERNACIONAL DO ALGARVE

There were many very valuable cars on display and it is wonderful that the owners allowed spectators close access to them. One in particular to note was the 1957 Maserati 250F of Klaus Lehr entered in the pre 1961 Formula One race. Voted the Greatest Racing Car ever by UK magazine Octane, the car was made famous by Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in the 1950s. Few come up for sale but are expected to fetch about €2.25 million when they do!

As in previous years, Francisco Santos organised a parade of vehicles on Saturday lunchtime. A wide range of classic and “future” classic cars were on show including Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Morgan to name a few.

And finally the Historic Festival also saw the Club des Anciens Pilotes de Grand Prix de Formule Un hold its annual meeting. With many members attending, including Richard Attwood, Tony Brooks, Howden Ganley and David Piper. Crowds swarmed around them as they sat giving autographs near the paddock swimming pool on Saturday and Sunday.

Autographs with ex F1 drivers. Photo: PHIL EGGINTON.
Autographs with ex F1 drivers. Photo: PHIL EGGINTON.

Once again there was universal praise for the track from drivers new and old. Despite earlier forecasts, the weather proved fine all weekend with only an occasional light shower.

Overall, once again, a great weekend for drivers and spectators alike.

Phil Egginton is Managing Director of Peninsula Motorsport, specialist motorsport services company based at the race track, allowing him to experience, first-hand, all the action at the circuit.