This is where it all began in earnest. On 22 March 2019, the Ultimate Cup Series took off on the Estoril circuit. This weekend, the Portuguese track that has seen legendary Formula 1 drivers such as Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna, hosts the sixth and final round of the 2021 season.
All six grids – NAPA GT-Touring Endurance, Endurance Proto, Single Seater, GT-Touring Sprint, 208 Racing Cup and 208 Relay – have made the trip.
The stakes will be high for those competing for the title, as this final round counts double and a countdown of their least successful race in points. The suspense is therefore total at the beginning of this end of season.
Key information to remember:
NAPA GT-Touring Endurance grid:
- With 19 cars entered and the arrival, or return, of some teams in the different categories (GT Class 3A, GT Class 3B, GT Class 5A, Porsche Cup and UTCR), the starting grid will look great on Sunday at 9.15am for the last confrontation.
- The winners at Le Mans last September, Raymond Narac and Pierre Arnaud, will be back at the wheel of the #76 IMSA Performance Porsche 911 GT3 R.
- IMSA Performance will also field a Porsche Cup, type 992 last generation, as will the CLRT team, which will field two.
- CLRT, the reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup France, will also be entrusting a car to the French Porsche champion, Marvin Klein, alongside Tugdual Rabreau.
- German team PROsport Racing will make its Ultimate Cup Series debut with an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in GT Class 5A. Another British GT car will be entered by Team Virage, with a new crew of José Antonio Ledesma, Xavier Follenfant and Jase Gleichberg.
- The “intractable caterer”, Pierre Martinet, will be joined by his sidekick Gérard Tremblay, both accompanied by Inès Taittinger.
- The battle for the championship will be the focus of attention:
- With a victory and four other podiums in total, Franck Dezoteux and Stéphane Tribaudini lead the general and GT Class 3A, NAPA GT-Touring Endurance rankings, with only 7 points ahead of Franck Thybaud and Eric Cayrolle, 9 ahead of Jean-Paul Pagny, David Hallyday and Jean-Bernard Bouvet, and 27 ahead of the latest winners, Charles-Henri Samani and Emmanuel Collard.
- In the team ranking, AB Sport Auto has only a 5 point lead over Visiom, 13 over Racetivty.
Endurance Proto grid:
- Three LMP3 manufacturers will be represented in Estoril this weekend: Duqueine, Ginetta and Ligier.
- The German-flagged Konrad Motorsport team will enter a Ginetta G61-LT-P3 for the first time in its history. Owner Franz Konrad will drive it with Tim Zimmermann.
- Team Virage is making a comeback after missing the event in Magny-Cours. Both the #77 Ligier JS P320, driven by Stéphane Adler and Alessandro Bracalente, and the #88, of Mathis Poulet, Julian Wagg and Miguel Cristovao, will be on track.
- Miguel Cristovao is the only local driver of all the drivers entered this weekend.
- DB Autosport will be fielding its Duqueine D08 for Jordan Perroy, Nicolas Melin and Mathias Beche.
- As for the championship, despite four victories and 100 points, Team Virage and the drivers of the #88 will try to win a fifth race and thus the title. Even if the cards can be reshuffled due to the double distribution of points, DB Autosport must nevertheless make up a deficit of 28.5 points.
- Eight other prototypes were lined up, six CN and two Evo. ANS Motorsport once again took the win in numbers against Palmyr.
- Alexandre Yvon, leader of the championship, will be able to count on the team owner and the formidable driver that he is, Nicolas Schatz, to help him in his quest for the title. Taking advantage of the absence of his team-mates at ANS, Xavier Fort and Nicolas Marroc, Alexandre Yvon will have to stay on his guard, in order not to let Philippe Mondolot and Christophe Kubryk, third, catch up with him. The duo won the season opener at Le Castellet and will try everything this weekend.
- Jacopo d’Amato, who is used to single-seaters, will leave the F3R for the ANS CN #1, alongside David Droux, who has a lot of experience in prototypes.
- The 3-hour Proto Endurance race will close the weekend on Sunday afternoon.
KENNOL GT-Touring Sprint grid:
- The format of the GT-Touring Sprint races has changed slightly for this final. Four races of 25 minutes, instead of 20 minutes, are on the programme.
- More racing time for even more fun to watch the battle on the track.
- Marc Waechter vs Bernard Delhez. At the wheel of their respective Renault R.S. 01s, the Swiss and the Belgian are engaged in an unprecedented duel in the history of GT Sprint.
- The driver of G2 Racing AG, Marc Waechter, took the lead in Magny-Cours against the AB Sport Auto driver. The two men are only separated by 5 points, so every position will be decisive on Friday and Saturday.
- A third Renault will be entered this weekend by Clairet Sport with Gilles Colombani on board.
- PROsport Racing will play both Endurance and Sprint with its Aston Martin Vantage, shared by Nico Verdonck and Rodrigue Gillion.
- Jimmy Clairet is in a good position to win the 308 Cup title, but he will not have to let his guard down, especially against Sébastien Thome.
Single Seater grid:
- The field of single-seaters is one of the most qualitative and quantitative of the 2021 Ultimate Cup Series.
- After a first stint in Magny-Cours, Carmen Jorda, former Lotus and Renault development driver in F1, will be back behind the wheel of the F3R entered by the French team CMR.
- In the latter team, 15-year-old Shannon Lugassy will be making his return to the wheel of an FR2.0 after several successes. Nicolas Prost will also be present, having won six of the fifteen races this season.
- Laurens van Hoepen, a young Dutchman in the making, is not thinking about the title but about the last three races that he could win at the wheel of the Graff’s F3R, in order to make his mark.
- Second in the F3R championship, Théo Vaucher remains on four consecutive podiums and is looking for a first success with the #51 Graff.
- The fight is very tight and undecided in the F3R Gentlemen where Christophe Hurni (Sports Promotion) and Luis Sanjuan (Graff), separated by a few units. Having missed two races, Eric Trouillet, thanks to his eight successes in nine races, is still in contention for the title with a 40-point deficit.
- The overwhelming domination of Franck Seemann (Race Motorsport) in FR2.0 is reflected in a lead that is almost impossible to catch up with, both in the general classification and in the Gentleman category.
- Despite the distance, the competitors of the 208 Racing and 208 Relay platforms came in great numbers, seizing the exceptional opportunity to compete on this magnificent track.
- No less than 25 drivers will battle it out in each of the four races on the programme this weekend.
- Each of the categories – General, Junior and Gentleman – will see a fierce battle in the final stretch of the championship.
- One of the specialists of the discipline, Alexandre Finkelstein (GPA Racing) is nevertheless assured of the title in the general classification after a clear domination, in spite of a half-hearted weekend in the Nivernais.
- Thierry Blaise is also sure to be crowned Gentleman champion.
- Joran Leneutre is the best placed to triumph in the Junior category.
- In Relay 208, Gemo Sport and FG Sport by New Team are the only ones who can still mathematically claim the title. The former has only a 3 point lead over the latter.
- (The countdown and double points do not apply to these two grids).
After a day of private testing on Thursday, the hostilities will intensify on Friday with the first sprint races.
All rankings can be found on ITS Results: https://www.its-results.com/ucs/2021/ebad1ed5-8128-49aa-b525-5bc871241aa7