Estoril showdown crowned the 2022 Iberian GT4 and TCR champions
Manuel Gião and Elias Niskanen were double GT4 Pro class champions in the Iberian Supercars Endurance and in the Campeonato de Portugal de Velocidade, as well as Miguel Cristóvão and Francisco Carvalho in GT4 Bronze and Bruno Pires in the GTC class, while António Coimbra and Luís Silva won the TCR class title in the Portuguese national series and Daniel Teixeira in the Iberian Supercars Endurance.
The duo Manuel Gião/Elias Niskanen, in their Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Lema Racing, closed the season on high by triumphing in the last race of the season. The greatest uncertainty hovered in the TCR class until the last lap. Manuel Gião and Elias Niskanen (GT4 Pro), Miguel Cristóvão and Francisco Carvalho (GT4 Bronze), Bruno Pires (GTC) and António Coimbra and Luís Silva (TCR), besides Daniel Teixeira (TCR), were the drivers who made the title party this Sunday afternoon.
Portugal's Gião and Finland's Niskanen, who started the second and final race seven points ahead of Spaniards Fernando Navarrete and Gonzalo de Andrés in the GT4 Pro class. The Lema Racing pair was even more comfortable when, on the second lap, the McLaren 570S GT4 of the SMC Motorsport duo was involved in a collision that led to its premature DNF. "What a big disappointment, to have an accident like that right at the start, when we had good prospects of finishing the race well, and to lose the championship like that..." said Gonzalo de Andrés.
Leandro Martins, in the McLaren 570S GT4 of Araújo Competição, was also in the same "tumble", ruining the aspirations of his colleague Álvaro Ramos, GTC class leader in the Iberian Supercars, who only needed to finish the race to win the title. "I'm sorry for what happened, but that's life...", said Ramos, already resigned to what happened.
The one who benefited was Bruno Pires, the driver of Fabela Sport's Porsche 911 Cup, who had already secured, the day before, the title of that class in the CPV and now, after having won in the GTC series, he added the Iberian Supercars title, by once again making an excellent race in the company of Fábio Mota, rewarded with second place.
"I didn't know that I am Supercars Endurance GTC class champion! I'm very happy and I just have to thank Fabio, who encouraged me a lot, the Fabela Sport team and my family," declared the new champion, while his colleague Mota added: "Bruno, who is my childhood friend, deserves both titles. I'm very happy for him, the team and the sponsors. Thank you all".
In the incident that took place in the second lap, and that motivated the safety-car to clean the track, was also involved the Audi RS8 LMS GT4 from Veloso Motorsport, driven by Patrick Cunha, then fourth classified. He still managed to restart the race, but with a considerable delay after he had to go to the pits to assess the damage.
Winners of the last race and champions of the GT4 Pro class in both the CPV and the Iberian Supercars Endurance, Manuel Gião and Elias Niskanen were, of course, happy at the end, and the Portuguese driver made a point of stressing: "Everything went very well and Elias followed all the 'tips' I gave him, both regarding the start and other details, because our car was fast in some areas and less efficient in others. And that was the key to our race, because he gave me the car in a good position and in the final part, with me hearing all the engine noises and not only, it was just control, to guarantee the victory and the conquest of the two titles. Congratulations to Elias, to Lema Racing and a special thanks to all the sponsors of this project".
Also with their eyes on the GT4 Bronze class title was always the duo Miguel Cristóvão and Francisco Carvalho, in the McLaren 570S GT4 from Araújo Competição, who only needed the second place to make the party. "Since the beginning, I defended myself and with a lot of caution, to avoid collisions and I even saw a bumper in front of me, managing to deliver the car to Francisco close to the first places. After all the vicissitudes we went through since the beginning of the season, being champion is a fair prize", said Cristóvão, while Carvalho added: "We are the champions and that is a great satisfaction, since we could have secured the title a long time ago, but everything turned out in the best way for us".
It was also interesting to follow the battle for the last place on the podium in the GT4 Pro class, between the Porsche Cayman GT4s of Quique Bordás and Pedro Bastos Rezende, from Garagem João Gomes, and Tomasso Lovati and Óscar Pires, from Lema Racing, which was only decided in the last lap. GT veteran Bastos Rezende managed to beat race debutant Pires by just... 39 tenths of a second.
The uncertainty was a constant in the TCR class from the first lap until the chequered flag was lowered, as Daniel Teixeira, in the JT59 Racing Team CUPRA TCR, was "obliged" to win the race and set the fastest lap to beat António Coimbra and Luís Silva, in the Sports & You Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
Coimbra, who didn't qualify for professional reasons, started from the last place and his only goal was to set the fastest lap to get the extra point against Teixeira. "For a point you win, for a point you lose! I did a true qualification and got the fastest lap, which was the key to get the title, so we are very satisfied," said António Coimbra, while his teammate Luís Silva added: "In my stint, I couldn't held Teixeira. I was always behind him, hoping he would make a mistake, but I knew that our goal was assured".
The Cupra driver did not make a double but took home the Iberian Supercars Car Endurance title. "Unfortunately, I lost the Portuguese series title by one point. Congratulations to António Coimbra and Luís Silva for achieving the fastest lap, but I'm Iberian Supercars champion. It was a very disputed championship and we must congratulate those who defined this formula of keeping everything in suspense until the last race," said Daniel Teixeira.
RACE 2 RESULTS
1st, Elias Niskanen/Manuel Gião (Lema Racing/Mercedes-AMG GT4/GT4 Pro), 24 laps
2nd, Fábio Mota/Bruno Pires (Fabela Sports/Porsche 911 Cup/GTC), 2.352s
3rd, Tomás Pintos/Guillermo Aso (SMC Motorsport/McLaren 570S GT4/GT4 Pro), 12.321
4th, Daniel Teixeira (JT59 Racing Team/CUPRA TCR/TCR), 33.430
5º, António Coimbra/Luís Silva (Sports & You/Hyundai Elantra N TCR/TCR), 37.908
6º, Miguel Cristóvão/Francisco Carvalho (Araújo Competição/McLaren 570S GT4/GT4 Bronze), 47.198
7º, Andrius Zemaitis (ProGT/Porsche Cayman GT4/GT4 Bronze), 1.11.067
8th, Quique Bordás/Pedro Bastos Rezende (Garagem João Gomes/Porsche Cayman GT4/GT4 Pro), 1.41.526
9th, Tomasso Lovati/Oscar Pires (Lema Racing/Porsche Cayman GT4/GT4 Pro), 1.41.565
10th, Patrick Cunha/Jorge Rodrigues (Veloso Motorsport/Audi R8 LMS GT4/GT4 Bronze), 2 laps behind
11th, Alvaro Fontes/Tomás Pinto Abreu (Tockwith Motorsport/Ginetta G50/GTC), 2 laps behind
12th, Alexandre Fonseca/Paulo Oliveira (Veloso Motorsport/Porsche Cayman GT4/GT4 Bronze), 3 laps behind
13th, Gonzalo de Andrés/Fernando Navarrete (SMC Motorsport/McLaren 570S GT4/GT4 Pro), 20 laps
14th, Leandro Martins/Álvaro Ramos (Araújo Competição/McLaren 570S GT4/GTC), 22 laps
15th, Gabriela Correia/José Correia (JC Group Racing/Mercedes-AMG GT4/GT4 Bronze) DNS