After a day of rain, wind, sun, more rain, more wind, a little bit of sun, then more rain in Portugal for the EFRA Large Scale Touring Car European Championships, the Semi-Final races were absolutely fantastic and the Main Final was a flag-to-flag victory for Frenchman Alain-Bernard Arnaldi! German racer, current World Champion (and full-time dentist!) Markus Feldmann came in second after a steady 30-minute race, and the podium was completed with a second Frenchman, Mathieu Briere, taking third place.

With the day starting with the heavy rain that weather forecasts had threatened us with all week, the start of the racing programme was delayed for 2 hours, with the 20-minute lower Finals reduced to 15 minutes. The result was a mix of track conditions, mostly damp but with some races getting short rain showers and causing misfortune in the form of crashes and spins.

Rain tyres like these helped out a few racers!

Semi-Final B

Watch the Semi-Final B here! (direct link to the start of the race)

On a damp but drying track, Martin Lissau started from the lead and won the race to the chequered flag. Behind him, however, there was plenty of action! Alex Bayer and Daniel Wurster had an exciting battle for the first few laps, until a tucked bodyshell forced Daniel to the back of the running order as Ales worked his way from 7th on the grid to 3rd place. The Frenchmen Mathieu Briere and Cédric Prevot battled for most of the 30-minute race, with Cédric achieving 2nd and Mathieu 4th. Guido Ruster and Andrea Catalani moved up from the bump-up positions (10th and 9th respectively) to 5th and 6th at the end of the race.

Semi-Final B Result

  1. Martin Lissau
  2. Cédric Prevot
  3. Ales Bayer
  4. Mathieu Briere
  5. Guido Ruster
  6. Andrea Catalani
  7. Adrian Viña Coto
  8. Dario Veseli
  9. Marko Grigic
  10. Daniel Wurster

Some question remained about how the Final grid would be sorted, as the normal method of sorting the grid for EFRA Large Scale Championships would be to take the fastest 10 racers’ times over both Semi-Finals, but the Semi A would have a faster (dry!) track if the weather continued the way it was going! What would happen next? Read on…

Semi-Final A

Watch the Semi-Final A here! (direct link to the start of the race)

With the track drying rapidly, the Semi-Final A grid lined up with a 30-minute race ahead of them. Would it rain? Would it stay dry? How would the race officials handle the faster race times? Well the races weren’t fussed about that, they just wanted to get a fast time in! Unfortunately the first lap didn’t go well for Dutch racer Hessel Roskam, who had the worst luck ever as he was mid-pack and a car at the rear of the field crossed the track and hit him head-on, wrecking his front suspension – and it got worse when he crashed at the end of the straight right in front of our commentary position! That was the first shocker – the second hit when the raindrops started partway through the race! As soon as the first spins started happening, the racers immediately reined in their speed and crept around the track, with most continuing on using dry tyres but a few of the racers actually pitting to change to rain boots! Giovanni Verbrugghe, Fernando Silva Berrocal, Michael Weiser and Gianmarco Martelli were the only ones to try tyre changes, with around a minute and a half being added to their lap time due to frantic work from the mechanics! Lap times shot up from the 24 second range to 30-plus seconds, with some racers going up to 40-42 seconds on some laps.

At the front of the field, Frenchman and Top Qualifier Alain-Bernard Aranaldi ran (creeped?) away at the front, chased by World Champion Markus Feldmann from Germany. Alain-Bernard and Markus finished 1st and 2nd as the rain continued to come down, and Markus’s fellow German and friend in the pits Michael Donovan finished 3rd. Giovanni Verbrugghe started 4th and finished 4th (thanks to his rain tyres? not really sure!), with Gianmarco Martelli one of the big movers, finishing in 5th from 9th on the grid, definitely thanks to his tyre change.

Semi-Final A Result

  1. Alain-Bernard Aranaldi
  2. Markus Feldmann
  3. Michael Donovan
  4. Giovanni Verbrugghe
  5. Gianmarco Martelli
  6. Michael Weiser
  7. Jeffrey van Wijk
  8. Fernando Silva Berrocal
  9. Maxime Rouhier
  10. Hessel Roskam

So how would the split between the Semi-Finals be decided? Normally the ten spots in the Final would be decided by the fastest race times in both Semi-Finals, but the EFRA rules say that when the Semi-Finals have a significant difference in race times (as they certainly did!) the top 5 racers from each Semi-Final were put into the Final. And that was it!

Main Final

Watch the full 30-minute Final here! Or watch it embedded below and skip forward to 5:52:47 to see the Final from the start.

At the start of the Main Final, Martin Lissau shot off to one side, thanks (we were told later) to a broken diff – Martin struggled to recover and slipped back through the field as Alain-Bernard Aranaldi powered on, chased by WC Markus Feldmann. Martin was able to hold off much of the chasing pack and even passed a few cars to get back into 4th. Powering up from 8th place was Frenchman Mathieu Briere, passing Michael Donovan, who started from 5th but had to retire after just 15 laps, and Cédric Prevot who started from 4th and finished 5th. Alain-Bernard led from start to finish, taking a deserved win, with Markus Feldmann taking 2nd and being quite happy with it! Mathieu Briere finished off the podium, taking 3rd with a strong run on his own!

EFRA Large Scale Touring Car European Championships Final standings

1. Alain-Bernard Aranaldi
2. Markus Feldmann
3. Mathieu Briere
4. Martin Lissau
5. Cédric Prevot
6. Gianmarco Martelli
7. Ales Bayer
8. Guido Ruster
9. Giovanni Verbrugghe
10. Michael Donovan

The cars of the podium drivers

Local officials from Vila Real hand out the trophies and champagne!

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