Motor Racing Legends’ JD Classics-supported Historic Touring Car Challenge series again demonstrated its potential at the Algarve Classic Festival’s season-closer on October 17-19. Britons Dan Cox and Paul Pochciol each won a leg of the double-header, defeating Portugal’s CSS racers and a pair of HTCC-invited Porsche 911 Carrera RSRs, one of which was blinding fast, but fragile.
Joao Silva’s Porsche headed the 23-car field by six seconds in qualifying, but Pochciol’s Jaguar XJ12C, Cox (in Vince Woodman’s ex-Nick Stagg two-litre Ford Escort RS1600, running in Woodman’s early ’70s VMW Motors livery) and Tom Pochciol’s UFO Jeans Ford Capri clone were separated by 0.789s on the dramatic 2.9-mile Autódromo International Algarve circuit, built to FIA Grade 1 specification in 2007-’8.
Rui Macedo Silva’s Porsche RSR shared row three with Richard Postins’ Marlboro-liveried Rover SDI, both well in touch. The British contingent was completed by the Rover 3500S of Peter Mallett, which had the twin Ford Escort RS2000s of Henrique /Gonzalo Jordao and Antonio/Tiago Magalhaes, Luis Ribeiro’s Jaguar XJS and Miguel Ferreira’s RS2000 for company.
Despite smoking ominously, poleman Silva’s silver Porsche had a 10 second lead within two laps in Saturday’s programme-opener. The Portuguese driver’s team had taken the engine out of the car on Friday night but had not secured its cam box covers properly thus, with oil spewing everywhere under pressure, it headed forlornly for the pits after three circuits.
Pursuer Cox could smell the lubricant, and instinctively knew the score. He duly raced past to victory over Postins and Tom Pochciol. Tom’s father Paul slipped to fourth having picked up a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane at his mandatory stop, which cost him 30 seconds. Macedo Silva’s yellow Porsche was the only other car to go the distance. Mallett finished 10th.
“We know the Escort is quick, but had a few problems in testing, so to win was an unexpected bonus,” said the triple HSCC Historic Saloon champion Cox, watched proudly by veteran BRDC member Woodman, whose five-decade racing career was cruelly ended by a stroke.
An extra local VW Golf GTI boosted the grid to 24 on Sunday, but early leader Cox switched his BDG engine off when its oil pressure started to drop four laps in. Silva, from the back, arrived seconds earlier, his Porsche surrounded by another oily haze.
Paul Pochciol took over the lead and converted it to victory, howling to almost 150mph on the quickest part of the track, son Tom (who made his pit call two laps later) having led during the stop phase. Macedo Silva reeled Pochciol Jr in towards the end and grabbed second on the penultimate tour. Postins endured a drive through penalty but still finished fourth on the lead lap. The lower-spec Rover of Mallett was a good fifth.
“That was enjoyable, although we only have about 400bhp on tap at present. Hopefully I’ll have proper power next year,” smiled Paul Pochciol, who was delighted to share the podium with his lad as the red and green Portuguese flag for Macedo Silva split the Union Jacks fluttering over the podium.
Down the field there was much spirited dicing, none better than the protracted duel for ninth place to which Rui Castro/Jose Arantes (Datsun 1200) pipped CSS invitees Nuno Dias/Carolina Moura (Fiat 127) by 0.088s!