The late substitution of JD Classics’ eyecatching Invitation class Group 44 Jaguar XJS, for its Tom Walkinshaw Racing European Touring Car Championship version, provided Chris Ward with another showcase for his versatility in the Motor Racing Legends-promoted Historic Touring Car Challenge at the eighth Algarve Classic Festival on October 28-30. The participation of a tranche of Portuguese competitors brought the field to 34 cars.
Ward bellowed the 460bhp V12-engined monster, developed by Bob Tullius in the USA, onto pole position with a snorting 2m02.012s (85.30mph) lap of the demanding 15-turn switchback. Chris won both legs of the double-header from hard-charging Nick and Harry Whale in the Auto Trader BMW E30 M3 and Ric Wood’s 3.4-litre Ford GAA V6-powered Capri, shared by Gary Pearson on Saturday.
The Whales gridded second in the wailing ‘Beemer,’ their stout 2:04.528 half a second quicker than Pearson managed in Monteverde’s emerald green Capri before its GAA engine holed a piston, sidelining it for the weekend. Circuit debutant Wood sportingly offered Gary a shot in his similar Liqui Moly/Nigrin polish tribute-liveried car, having qualified an understandably cautious fifth behind Mark Smith’s E30 M3.
Behind the late-built Capris, the less potent – and very original – 2.9-litre Weslake V6-engined RS2600 (Ford dealer Gerstmann’s 1973 race car, raced by Germans Albrecht Krebs/Hartmut Kautz) was sixth quickest in the hands of owner Philip Walker and the freight logistics king’s regular co-driver Miles Griffiths on 2:08.353. The quickest Rover SD1s were next up, Portimao returnee Richard Postins’ TWR-built Marlboro car inside 2m10s with Chris and Charlie Williams just 1.2s behind in their ex-Dennis Leech dayglo-striped car.
The next six cars were split by two seconds. This splendid group comprised the E30 M3s of lad-and-dad Tom and Paul Andrew and Roger Stanford/Paul Eaton, former National Hot Rod aces Tony Paxman and Malcolm Harding’s Ford Escort Mk1, the Rover V8s of Irishman Jonathan White and John Bussell (Gitanes) and Adam Brindle/Nigel Greensall (Triplex, the Tony Dron Trophy chaser) plus Mike Luck’s fast BMW 2002Ti. Luck had planned to share with Jack Hawksworth but the British rising star’s US commitments took precedence, thus he soloed. The other British BMW present was veteran Les Ely’s 2000.
Quickest of the Portuguese racers were the RP Motorsport entries of Carlos Dias Pedro/Ricardo Pereira (Ford Escort RS2000) and Henrique Jordao (Porsche 928S), although Jose Sousa (BMW 635CSi) joined in having qualified in one of the national championship sessions. This combo would prove the most competitive of the locals. Among their VW Golf GTis, Alfa Romeos and Datsun 1200s lurked the rapid Austin Cooper S of Hipolito ‘Flying Saucers’ Pires.
The results of the Saturday and Sunday races had a very similar look, indeed the first five cars home were the same. The Whales kept the leading Jaguar in sight on both days, joining Ward in the 2m02s bracket with a stirring effort on day two. Behind the Capris of Wood and Griffiths (with Pearson and Walker for the opener) and Postins’ Rover the BMWs of the Andrews and Sousa – second in class to Postins – completed the top sixes.
Seventh on Saturday, Paxman’s Escort non-started the second race – following a stub axle failure in another outing – in which the Williams equipe’s sinister-looking Rover improved from ninth to seventh. Luck also moved up from 10th to ninth, his little BMW’s engine blunted by its rev limiter earlier and earlier on the long start straight the harder the former Clubmans racer tried. Brindle/Greensall, sole starters in the Tony Dron Trophy division, slipped from 11th to 17th, surrounded by local cars.