The Thoroughbred Grand Prix title showdown provided a thrilling centrepiece to Estoril’s new historic festival as nearly 100 British entries made the end-of-season trip to southern Europe.
For the many lured by the prospect of October sunshine there was disappointment, as rain fell for the majority of the three-day meeting. But the sky lightened long enough on Sunday afternoon for the TGP shoot-out to be held in dry conditions, which enabled pole man Fredy Kumschick to fire his Williams FW07C into the lead at the re-start, which followed a first-lap mid-field crash. As points leader, the Swiss knew that an overall (and therefore Class C) victory would be enough to secure the title. His rivals for the crown, Mike Wrigley (Class D Tyrrell 012) and 2002 champion Mike Whatley (Class B Ensign N175), had to be sure to win their respective classes, and hope that Kumschick tripped up.
Crucially, Kumschick had lost first gear. This precluded any breakaway, and Hubertus Bahlsen’s Arrows A4 and the Williams FW08s of Joaquin Folch and Richard Eyre ran in tandem directly behind the leader. Until lap six, that is, when Bahlsen tried to outbrake Kumschick into the tight left-hand turn six. Contact was made, the Arrows flew off the road and the delayed Kumschick dropped to third.
Folch quickly built a cushion he’d hold to the end, while Kumschick finally displaced Eyre on the final corner of the last lap — but his second place meant the others had a chance.
Whatley successfully won his class, despite a broken right-rear brake disc — but only after Mauro Pane’s flying Tyrrell P34 had been forced to pit. With Wrigley finishing second in class, after being passed by Steve Hartley’s Arrows A6 at mid-distance, it appeared that the Ensign driver had kept his title. Not so. Post-race, the stewards disqualified Hartley for passing Wrigley under yellow flags, allowing Wrigley to snatch the crown.
A brace of HGPCA events fell to Sid Hoole’s ex-Jo Bonnier Cooper T66. In the first race he swapped the lead several times with Irvine Laidlaw’s BRM P57 before prevailing. In the second, with Laidlaw absent, it was left to American Danny Baker to harry the leader throughout in Roy Walzer’s Lotus 24.
Flavien Marcais and Nick Wrigley’s Iso Grifo emerged as the clear winner in the wet Gentleman Drivers’ two-hour race. David Clark and Simon Hadfield’s Aston Martin just staved off the Richard Bull/Chris Conoley Triumph TR4 for second.
Another class win sealed the FIA Historic Touring Car title for French Mini Cooper drivers Claude Boissy and Alain Miran, while Simon Ham won the Lurani Formula Junior round.