EXCITING SEASON START AT PORTIMAO
Nuno Pires and Elias Niskanen fought hard to win both GT4 races
Daniel Teixeira and Alvaro Fontes/Miguel Gomez split Touring Car honours
João Vieira and Aston Martin duo excel in GTC
RACE 1 - Nuno Pires and Elias Niskanen open the season with a win
Nuno Pires and Elias Niskanen, in a Mercedes-AMG GT4, won the first race of the season in the Iberian Supercars Endurance. Meanwhile, Daniel Teixeira won the Touring Car category with his Cupra TCR, and newcomer João Vieira won the GTC category with his Porsche 911 Cup.
The race began with problems for the pole-position duo of José Carlos Pires and Francisco Abreu in the Speedy Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, as they failed to go to the track before the pit-lane close, forcing them to start the race from the pit lane.
However, the race started with the Safety-Car on the track as Bruno Pires in the Tockwith Motorsports Ginetta G55 GT4 stopped on the warm-up lap with a transmission problem.
As soon as the green flag was displayed, José Carlos Pires began to recover positions, while at the front, Nuno Pires, in the No.55 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Lema Racing was leading, but he was overtook by the Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Veloso Motorsport driven by Jorge Rodrigues, who eventually took the lead.
However, the Safety-Car returned to the track, coinciding with the opening of the pit lane for tire changes, which turned out to be a strategic moment that was decisive for the outcome of the classification.
José Carlos Pires and Jorge Rodrigues went immediately to the pits, while Nuno Pires and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 of NM Racing Team cars and Racar Mercedes-AMG GT4 stayed on track.
The latter lost a lot of time, leaving in the hands of Francisco Abreu (BMW M4 GT4 of Speedy Motorsport) and Patrick Cunha (Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Veloso Motorsport) the fight for the win.
Abreu eventually overtook Rodrigues, crossing the finish line in first followed by the Audi from Veloso Motorsport, which won in GT4 Bronze division, while Elias Niskanen managed to recover to third.
At the end, José Carlos Pires said "that it was a difficult and back-to-back race, but we made it," while Francisco Abreu said that "we have to improve the car since in race pace we are not yet as consistent as the Mercedes-AMG.”
However, after the race, the BMW M4 GT4 and the Audi R8 LMS GT4 drivers would be penalised with thirty-nine seconds, for having committed an irregularity during the Safety-Car procedure, which promoted Lema Racing's Mercedes-AMG GT4s to the first place, with Nuno Pires and Elias Niskanen eventually triumphing, followed by José Carlos Pires/Francisco Abreu and Jorge Rodrigues/Patrick Cunha.
In the sixth place of the overall standings, João Vieira, in a Porsche 911 Cup from Garagem Aurora, was the winner of the GTC and Cup division, being preceded, in this order, by the BMW M4 GT4 from Batina Racing (Sérgio Azevedo/Orlando Batina) and by the McLaren 570S GT4 from McLaren Barcelona - SMC Racing (Andrius Zemaitis/Alejandro Geppert).
Álvaro Ramos and Fernando Soares took the upper hand in the GTX class, driving the beautiful Aston Martin Lisboa-supported Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 with 11th place overall, very close to Alfonso Colomina (McLaren 570S GT4), who was tenth behind his GT4 Bronze opponents Luís Calheiros/Paulo Macedo and Alberto de Martín/Nil Montserrat.
Among Touring cars there was a very interesting fight between the BMW M2 CS Racing driven by Alvaro Fontes and the Cupra TCR of Daniel Teixeira, who lost the lead at the start.
However, the Portuguese driver from JT59 Racing Team, who struggled all race with gearbox problems, managed to overtake the Escuderia Faraón pair due to a pit stop penalty of the Spanish duo. "It was a race with a great fight with Alvaro (Fontes), always clean. I ended up benefiting from their problems, as I also had technical difficulties in my car," said the TCR winner.
Next in the category were the TC division winners Borja Hormigos/Héctor Hernández in the BMW M240i Racing of Autoworks Motorsport.
RACE 2 - Elias Niskanen and Nuno Pires double up
The race started once again in dramatic fashion for the Speedy Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 team, following first corner contact between pole-position Francisco Abreu and Nil Montserrat's Mercedes-AMG GT4, leaving the Munich-manufactured car stopped on the track facing the wrong way. This dropped Abreu to last position.
Elias Niskanen, who started from second, took the lead with the driver of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 of the NM Racing Team following him, and the two set a strong pace to distance themselves from the rest of the field.
The defending champion never managed to have an advantage of more than three seconds, and that's how both entered the pits for the driver change, but with the disadvantage of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Lema Racing, which had a ten-second handicap after the triumph in the first race.
In fact, the NM Racing Team's car, already with Alberto de Martín, left the pit-lane in the lead, but during its exit lap, it would lose a place to Manuel Gião in Racar's Mercedes-AMG GT4, and at the finish line acceleration, it would be overtaken by the Lema Racing's Stuttgart car, which was already in Nuno Pires' hands and would rise to second.
The reigning GT4 Pro Champion, who last year teamed up with Elias Niskanen, looked to be heading for his first win of the season along with his teammate Carlos Vieira, but towards the end of the race, he received a penalty for missing his pit stop time, which dropped him to tenth.
Nuno Pires was thus in the lead, securing the second win of the day for himself and Elias Niskanen, crossing the finish line ahead of Alberto de Martín and Nil Montserrat in the Mercedes-AMG GT4 of the NM Racing Team.
"It was a good start to the season with two wins. We only missed the pole-positions, but we got a lot of traffic," said Elias Niskanen, while his teammate Nuno Pires added, "We all started working together, me, Elias, and Lema Racing, a month and a half ago, and we still have room for improvement. We'll work to be even stronger in Jarama."
However, after the race, Nil Montserrat and Alberto de Martín were penalized for the incident at the start of the race, losing second place overall and the GT4 Bronze victory, which was inherited by Patrick Cunha and Jorge Rodrigues in the Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Veloso Motorsport. Francisco Carvalho/Nuno Baptista (McLaren 570S GT4 from Araújo Competição) and Bruno Pires/Fábio Mota (Ginetta G55 GT4 from Tockwith Motorsport) were in the next positions.
After fighting for the victory among the Touring Car competitors in the first race with Daniel Teixeira, who was unable to participate in the afternoon's race due to gearbox problems, Alvaro Fontes and Miguel Gomes in a BMW M2 CS Racing took first place in the category by beating Autoworks Motorsport's BMW M240i Racing (Borja Hormigos/Héctor Hernández), the TC winner, and the Cupra TCR of Manuel Sousa and Luís Silva, the TCR winner.
Álvaro Fontes highlighted "the quality of the championship, which has many cars with a high level and very similar pace, which allows many fights. I had a lot of fun, and this victory is fantastic, especially because Miguel did very well”.
Not far from the Escuderia Faraón BMW were the GTC winners, Álvaro Ramos and Fernando Soares, who again won the GTX division, driving the showy Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4, beating João Vieira (Garagem Aurora Porsche 911 Cup), the Cup division winner once again.
"The race went very well," said Álvaro Ramos, adding, "Fernando Soares and I had an almost perfect weekend, with two wins in our division.”
In the third position of the GTC was the Tockwith Motorsport Ginetta G50 of Portuguese youngster Tomás Pinto Abreu and British veteran Simon Moore, which was celebrating its birthday this Sunday.
The Iberian Supercars Endurance Rounds 3 & 4 will take place at Circuito de Jarama on June 10 and 11.