The first race of the Estoril Season Finale was one of the most dramatic and exciting of the entire season, with the winner being determined on the last lap of the forty-five minutes of action.
With the titles of the Iberian Supercars Endurance still undecided, and weighing on the strategies of most teams, the race started on a cold track under a cloudy sky on Sunday morning. Right away, it was clear that the two front-runners were determined to win.
José Carlos Pires, in the BMW M4 GT4 from Speedy Motorsport, started from pole position but faced pressure from Nuno Pires in the Mercedes AMG GT4 from Lema Racing in the first corner of the race. Meanwhile, Jorge Rodrigues, leading the GT4 Bronze in the Audi R8 LMS GT4 from Veloso Motorsport, closely followed the duo without directly getting involved in the battle of the two front-runners.
The two front cars engaged in an intense battle, with several attempts by the Mercedes-AMG driver to overtake the leader, eventually succeeding midway through the first stint. However, Nuno Pires, who seemed faster, couldn't pull away from his pursuer and, near the pit stops, as he tried to lap another car, he had to lift off, allowing José Carlos Pires to regain the lead.
These positions remained after the driver changes, but when Elias Niskanen returned to the track, he was three seconds behind Francisco Abreu. This forced the Mercedes AMG GT4 driver to recover and overtake his BMW M4 GT4 opponent to enhance their chances of winning the title for the Lema Racing duo.
Then, a thrilling display of driving skills unfolded between the top two drivers, navigating through heavy traffic on the track. The Finnish driver gradually closed in on the Portuguese, reaching the rear of the BMW on the penultimate lap.
Elias Niskanen's first attack occurred during the braking for Turn 1, but Francisco Abreu defended his position on the inside, holding onto the lead. However, the Lema Racing driver was determined to win. After failing to launch an attack in the first braking zone on the last lap, he seized an opportunity in Turn 2, resulting in contact between the two.
After both cars went off track, the Mercedes-AMG emerged ahead of the BMW. Meanwhile, the young debutant Jan Duran had already moved into the lead. The Spanish driver, in the NM Racing Mercedes AMG GT4 shared with Guillermo Aso, delivered an excellent performance, keeping the top two in sight. When the front duo encountered problems, he took the lead, winning the first race of the weekend.
The Lema Racing duo, José Carlos Pires and Elias Niskanen, crossed the finish line in second place, also earning the point for the fastest lap. Speedy Motorsport took third place. However, the Portuguese-Finnish pair was penalized with a five-second penalty due to the incident between the two GT4 title contenders, resulting in the inversion of their positions in the race.
Sérgio Azevedo and Orlando Batina, in the BMW M4 GT4 (F82), in their first season in the category, also had an excellent race and secured fourth place, eight seconds behind the winners.
Jorge Rodrigues and Patrick Cunha, in the Veloso Motorsport Audi, showed strong pace from the beginning, managing their race well, winning the GT4 Bronze and clinching the Portuguese Speed Championship title in their division.
Bruno Pires, making his debut in the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS CS from Speedy Motorsport, secured a good second place, demonstrating a growing adaptation to the Zuffenhausen machine. Luís Calheiros and Paulo Macedo, who had a scare with an off-track excursion on the out lap from the pits to the pre-grid, damaging the front of their Mercedes-AMG GT4, recovered from the last overall position to third place in the division.
Series returnee António Coimbra, in the Hyundai Elantra N TCR from Sports & You, had an excellent race from pole position, although he suffered some fatigue in the final laps due to a lack of rhythm after almost a year of inactivity.
Daniel Teixeira, who had a challenging qualifying session yesterday, made an excellent recovery to second place in his division. José Correia and Beatriz Correia secured third place in the division, continuing the momentum they started in Jerez de la Frontera. However, holding onto this position was not easy, as Manuel Sousa was determined to finish on the podium until his Cupra TCR betrayed him by shutting down twice at the end of the race.
Borja Hormigos and Héctor Hernández, in the BMW M240i Racing, won the TC division with a race in which they gave their all, becoming the winners of the division. The FPAK Junior Team driver pairs, Duarte Pinto Coelho/Francisco Cruz and Duarte Camelo/Gabriel Caçoilo, secured the following podium positions in the class.
In the GTC class, Miguel Nabais and André Nabais, in the McLaren 570S prepared by Speedy Motorsport, had an excellent race and achieved their first victory in motorsports, beating Ruben Vaquinhas in the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 from Racar Motorsport.
Álvaro Ramos and Fernando Soares, in the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 from Araújo Competição, finished third in their division.
Rui Miritta, in the Porsche 911 Cup from Monteiro Competições, prevailed in the Cup class with a consistent race, beating Dave Benett and Marcus Fothergill, in the Tockwith Motorsport Porsche 911 Cup, who finished in second place and maintained their aspirations for the title in their division. Luís Rocha and Diogo Rocha secured third place. The battle among the four Porsches present was always lively, with João Poster and Miguel Caetano even circulating in podium positions in the division. On his return to the championship, Rui Miritta also took the victory in the GTC category.