If there is a driver for whom the Vila Real Street Circuit, which hosts Campeonato de Portugal de Velocidade (CPV) by Hankook on July 2/3, has no secrets, that driver is Francisco Carvalho.
The Guarda-native never missed an edition of the Trás-dos-Montes races until the interruption dictated by the pandemic, driving a diversity of cars that range from Aston Martin GT4 to Porsche 911 Cups, passing by Audi and SEAT, both in the TCR category.
"Throughout these years, I've been getting along very well with the circuit and I hope, this time, that this state of things keeps, so I can continue in the fight for victories," he says, before talking about the Araújo Competição's McLaren 570S GT4 that he shares with Miguel Cristóvão in this CPV season: "It must be great fun to race with a McLaren in Vila Real Circuit..."
Due to his vast experience Francisco Carvalho knows what is needed to be fast in a street circuit as Vila Real: "As it is not a permanent track, but regular streets, the asphalt is not very abrasive. It has a lot to say... I remember, for example, the very fast climb before the Mateus chicane. There are four corners that are negotiated very quickly and then comes the descent of Mateus, which is vertiginous in terms of speed. There are two lefts made going downhill, before a fast right, with hard braking for the chicane. You have to pay attention to the braking point to make the first [left] hard. I would say it's a unique circuit in the world."
After a fourth and a seventh place overall in the first two races of the season at Jarama, in the #88 Araújo Competição McLaren 570S GT4 the duo Francisco Carvalho/Miguel Cristóvão are aiming for more in Vila Real. The Portuguese veteran recognizes that there is potential to battle for victories.
"The idea that I got in Jarama is that we are a strong team and able to fight for the title. The Spanish SMC, with their McLarens, had the advantage of knowing the circuit and the car in these two races. We will do everything we can to close that gap and I am convinced that in the next rounds we will play at the same level or better. In fact, we were quite unlucky, because if it wasn't for the electrical problem that affected Miguel Cristóvão's performance in the second race, we could have won it. In racing, you also need luck to have an advantage..."