Career Summary:

Pedro Chaves

  • February 27, 1965
  • 53
  • Portugal
  • Not Active
  • 173
  • 19
  • 58
  • 6
  • 7
  • 10.98%
  • 33.53%

Pedro Chaves (full name Pedro Antonio Matos Chaves) is a Portuguese former racing and rally driver who has an impressive record in various sorts of motorsport, winning championship titles in any racing discipline he participated.

He was the 1990 British F3000 champion, progressing to Formula One after that. In the 1991 Formula 1 season, he failed to qualify for all 13 Grand Prix races he entered with Coloni Racing.

In the late 1990s, Chaves focused on rallying, winning two consecutive championship titles in the Portuguese Rally Championship in 1999 and 2000. Late in a career, he was active in sports car racing, recording two starts at Le Mans 24 Hours and winning the Spanish GT Championship title in 2002.

Pedro Matos Chaves

Pedro Matos Chaves

Starting in Portugal, developing a career in Great Britain

Born in Porto in February 1965, Pedro started his racing career in the Portuguese Formula Ford in 1986, moving to British Formula Ford in 1987. He spent one more season in Formula Ford, moving to Formula 3000 in 1989 with Cobra Motorsports.

He was also driving Reynard-Cosworth for Cobra Motorsports in the International F3000 Championship, not scoring either one point.

Pedro Chaves, Formula 3000

Pedro Chaves spent three seasons in Formula 3000, winning the British title in 1990

British F3000 champion in 1990

In 1990, Chaves joined Mansell Madgwick Motorsport and won the British F3000 title, recording five wins in ten races in a Reynard 90D-Cosworth. He collected almost twice as many points than the second-placed Alain Menu.

In the 1990 International F3000 season, he participated in four events, finishing best in the fourth place at Brands Hatch. Chaves also took part at F3 Macau Grand Prix, driving a Ralt-Honda and not finishing the race.

Pedro Chaves, 1991 Formula 1, Coloni

Pedro Chaves with his Coloni F1 car

Disastrous season in Formula One

With championship trophy in his hands, Chaves joined Italian team Coloni Racing to compete in the Formula One World Championship. He was driving the #31 Coloni C4-Cosworth.

Due to a large number of entrants, he had to drive in qualifications for Grand Prix races, failing to qualify in all thirteen events. For the last two rounds of the season, he was replaced by Naoki Hattori.

Back to Formula 3000 in 1992

After a disastrous season in Formula One, Chaves returned to International Formula 3000 in 1992, starting a season with GJ Motorsports and moving to Il Barone Rampante team after six rounds. He scored no points in ten races, deciding to leave series after that.

Three seasons in the Indy Lights Championship

The next challenge for Chaves was the Indy Lights Championship in North America. In 2003, he joined Brian Stewart Racing and gained pretty good results, scoring three podiums and finishing fourth in the points. In 1994, he was on a podium six times and finished fifth in the final standings.

In his third Indy Lights season, Chaves finally scored his maiden win. Driving for Mark Weida Leading Edge Racing, he won in Vancouver and finished fifth in the final standings.

Spanish touring car vice-champion in 1996

In 1996, Chaves made a radical switch in a career, leaving open-wheel racing and competing in the Spanish Touring Car Championship. He was driving BMW (318is and 320i) for Teo Martin Motorsport, scoring four wins and finished as a vice-champion at the end of the season.  The champion was Audi's Jordi Gene.

Racing with Porsche in the 1997 FIA GT Championship

One more change followed in 1997 when Pedro Chaves left touring car racing to enter the FIA GT Championship with Roock Racing. He started a season in the #16 Porsche 911 GT1 but later moved to the #57 Porsche 911 GT2.

His best result was the seventh place at Spa-Francorchamps in a Porsche 911 GT1. His co-drivers were Ralf Kelleners and Stephane Ortelli.

Pedro Matos Chaves, Toyota Corolla WRC

Pedro Chaves spent four seasons in a Toyota Corolla WRC

Two-time Portuguese rally champion

The even bigger switch in a career followed in 1998 when Chaves decides to participate full-time in the Portuguese Rally Championship.  Earlier in a career, between 1985 and 1994, he occasionally competed in national rally events with different cars (Toyota Starlet, Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV or Renault 5 GT Turbo). In 1998, what was his first full season in rallying, he was driving Toyota Celica GT-Four and Toyota Corolla WRC, finishing seventh in the points.

And then, in 1999, he won three rallies in a Toyota Corolla WRC and took the championship title. In 2000, he won five times and defended a title. His navigator in both championship-winning seasons was Sergio Paiva. Chaves spent one more season in a Toyota Corolla, finishing third in the championship in 2001.

Pedro Matos Chaves in a Toyota Corolla WRC at 1998 Rallye de Portugal

Pedro Matos Chaves in a Toyota Corolla WRC at 1998 Rallye de Portugal

Five starts at Portuguese WRC event

During his rally years, Chaves recorded five starts in the Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship. He made a WRC debut in 1993, driving a Renault 5 GT Turbo.

He scored his best result at Rally Portugal in 1998, finishing 13th overall in a Toyota Corolla WRC. From 1999 to 2001, he recorded three DNFs at Rally Portugal in a Toyota Corolla WRC.

Spanish GT title and Le Mans 24h debut in 2002

After successful years in a rallying, Chaves focused on sports car racing in 2002, driving the #11 Saleen S7-R for Graham Nash Motorsport in the Spanish GT Championship. He and Miguel Ramos were the race winners two times, capturing the championship title.

In June 2002, Chaves made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving the #68 Saleen S7-R for British team RML (Ray Mallock Limited). Sharing a car with Miguel Ramos and Gavin Pickering, he finished  23rd overall and fifth in GTS class.

2003 Le Mans 24 Hours, #64 Salenn S7-R

Pedro Chaves raced with Saleen two times at Le Mans

A season in the FIA GT Championship with Saleen

In 2003, Chaves stayed with Graham Nash Motorsport, driving a Saleen S7-R in the FIA GT Championship. Sharing the #8 car with Miguel Ramos and Ni Amorim, he scored no wins or podiums.

Outside FIA GT Championship, he was driving Saleen at Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours. At Sebring, he didn't finish the race. At Le Mans, he was sixth in GTS class, sharing the #64 Saleen with Thomas Erdos and Mike Newton.

Pedro Matos Chaves Renault

Pedro Chaves ended a career after spending a couple of seasons with Renault

Retiring from circuit racing, two more seasons in rallying

In 2003, his last season in the circuit racing, Chaves started to drive Renault Clio S1600 for Renault Elf factory team in Portuguese rally events. He spent two more seasons in rallying with Renault, finishing fourth in the Portuguese championship in 2004 and eighth in the championship in 2005.

At the end of 2005, at the age 40, he retired both from racing and rallying. After that, Chaves became a driver coach to A1 Team Lebanon in the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix Series. Two years later, he took over managerial duties in A1 Team Portugal.

Photos: Leszek Kusmirek, Eric Gilbert, autosport.pt,