By PHIL EGGINTON
Last weekend saw the last race meeting of 2009 at the Autódromo do Algarve. There was a mixed bag of races covering single seaters, GT’s and touring cars, with two local teams featured heavily in the main races.
Running in the Spanish GT category of the International Open GT race were Aurora Racing. Part of the Aurora Luxury Lifestyle property group the team has only been formed this year.
Based at the Autódromo, the team races a Ferrari 430 GT2 car. Drivers during the season have included Portuguese Formula 1 candidate Alvaro Parente, who was present over the weekend to give his support. Peter Sundberg ( the reigning Spanish GT champion) and Juan Manuel Lopes were the chosen drivers for this the last race of the championship.
They finished the first race with a Spanish GT class win, some six seconds ahead of their nearest rival. However, the series carries a success penalty system designed to level the race field.
For the second race they had some 25 seconds to catch up, plus starting in 7th place due to the earlier qualifying incident.
Lopes started, handing over to Sundberg, who proceeded to storm through the field eventually finishing third in class.
This clinched third place in the championship for Aurora in their debut year. Success on the track has been awarded to the team in the form of them now being an official Ferrari factory supported team, allowing them to use the much revered Prancing Horse logo on their overall and vehicles.
Plans for 2010 include another entry in the Spanish GT championship supplemented by chosen races in the Open GT and Le Mans Series races. For more information see www.auroraracingteam.com.
Also running at the weekend, and also new this year, were the Ginetta Cars introduced to Portugal through Autodromo-based Algarve Racing Services.
They have competed this season in the Portuguese Open championship. Like the Open GT races the Portuguese Open series features two endurance (50 minute) races per weekend including a compulsory pit stop and/or driver change.
Five Ginettas were competing for the cup. Algarve Racing Services own Steve Worrad was sharing with veteran racer John Sheldon. Paul Mallett and Graham Pippett both chose to pedal their own cars and guest drivers from Portugal and Spain shared the other cars. Both races proved exiting with battles throughout the field.
It was clear that the main fight for the Ginetta cup would be between the cars of Worrad/Sheldon and Mallett. The first race saw the cup go to Worrad and Sheldon with Mallett unfortunately spinning away his chances on the last lap. Race two also saw Worrad and Sheldon take the cup after Mallett retired with clutch problems.
Sheldon made a storming finish very nearly also taking third place overall. The race saw a successful end to the debut season for Ginettas in Portugal racing.
For 2010 it is hoped to hold an Autódromo based race series specifically for these remarkably quick, nimble but simply constructed cars.
For more information see www.algarveracingservices.com