The Iberian Supercars Endurance Estoril Season Finale by NAPA kicked off today with the official free practice session at Autódromo do Estoril.
Under the glorious sun of Portugal, the thirty-four entered cars took to the track to kick off the weekend of all decisions. Despite some trends, the uncertainty is immense, with the seven overall fastest drivers separated by less than seven-tenths of a second.
Certainly, dealing with the dense traffic of 34 cars on the track will pose a considerable challenge during tomorrow's 15-minute qualifying sessions.
Today, Elias Niskanen and Nuno Pires, in the Lema Racing Mercedes AMG GT4, managed to deal best with this obstacle, allowing them to top the timing sheets, beating GT4 Bronze leading duo Patrick Cunha and Jorge Rodrigues by one-tenth of a second.
The Veloso Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4 pair was the fastest in their division, starting their title campaign in the best possible way.
The Veloso Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4 pair was the fastest in their division, starting their title campaign in the best possible way. However, their main rivals, the Spanish duo Alberto de Martín and Nil Montserrat in the NM Racing Team Mercedes AMG GT4, were not far behind, securing the fourth-best overall time, losing only two-tenths of a second to their competitors in the fight for the GT4 Bronze crown.
In the GT4 Pro category, where Elias Niskanen and Nuno Pires were the fastest overall, Guillermo Aso and his new teammate, the newcomer Jan Duran, claimed the second spot, trailing the Lema Racing duo by only two-tenths and securing the third overall position.
The current leaders in the GT4 Pro, José Carlos Pires and Francisco Abreu, placed seventh in the Speedy Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, six-tenths of a second behind their main title rivals. However, they expressed dissatisfaction with the track traffic, admitting the potential for more than today's timesheet revealed.
Ahead of the BMW duo were Sérgio Azevedo and Orlando Batina in the Batina Racing BMW M4 (F82) GT4, and Manuel Gião and Roberto Faria in the Racar Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT4, who also demonstrated strong competitiveness and are candidates to fight for podium positions throughout the weekend.
In ninth place, with a good lap, was the best of the Touring Cars, the JT59 Racing Team Cupra TCR driven by Daniel Teixeira, the main candidate to secure the category title.
Their main rivals, Borja Hormigos and Héctor Hernández, finished in twenty-seventh place, but the Autoworks Motorsport BMW M240i Racing duo is known for consistency and has not yet shown their true potential today, focusing on learning the Estoril circuit, where both drivers make their debut. Still, the Spanish duo was the fastest in the TC division.
The series returning António Coimbra, in the competitive Sports & You Hyundai Elantra N TCR, was the second fastest in the TCR division, six-tenths of a second behind Daniel Teixeira.
Álvaro Ramos and Fernando Soares were the fastest in the GTC category and the GTX division, driving the Araújo Competição Aston Martin Vantage AMR, strengthening their position as title contenders.
However, Dave Benett and Marcus Fothergill in the Tockwith Motorsports Porsche 911 Cup were right on their tail, just two-tenths behind, placing second in the GTC and the fastest in the Cup division, potentially sealing the title this weekend and still being involved in the fight for the category crown.
Qualifying sessions are slated for tomorrow at 13:00. In a highly anticipated event, the upcoming Sunday will witness thrilling races, with the first commencing at 9:40 a.m. followed by the second at 2:35 p.m. Spectators and fans alike can experience the excitement in real-time by tuning in through the official social media channels of the competitions.