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In sight of Sintra
The Autodrome of Estoril lies a few miles north of the fashionable Portuguese watering hole and on the way to the town of Sintra. If it hadn't been for an unfortunate accident in a rally earlier this year, I doubt if the racing fraternity would have heard of Sintra. Certainly very few of them penetrate away from the Autodrome and explore the surrounding countryside, but having done so I became acutely aware that I was in rally country and among very poor people, many of them living in wooden shacks in which you would not keep a lawnmower. What they must think when the razz-ma-razz and unruliness of a rally invades their humble patch I cannot think. The Autodrome, Estoril and the coast-line of Portugal caters for the "beautiful people" and the "fashionable set" and the noise and confusion of a Formula One race was reasonably contained within its own specified area.
In years to come when we look in the Golden Book of Grand Prix racing and see the result of the 1986 Portuguese Grand Prix we shall be able to say without fear or favour, that "Nigel Mansell did a super job of work that day". The results will read: 1st. Mansell, 2nd. Prost, 3rd. Piquet, and 4th. Senna. It probably will not say that he beat Senna to the first corner, and that in itself is something of which to be proud, nor will it say that he led from start to finish of the 70 lap race, untroubled by the trio of "heavies" in his wake, and what is more, he had enough lead by lap 34 to stop for a new set of tyres and rejoin the race still in the lead. Such was his confidence in the Williarns-Honda and its engine fuel management system, that he could keep hammering on and he set a new lap record on lap 53.