No, you dont need to create a vhost template when use Apache httpd.conf directly.
You can check if port 81 is open with command "netstat -an | grep 81 | grep LISTEN". If it is, try to access a vhost on port 81.
The "restart required" status for all IP and vhosts in web admin console might be a false alarm.
If you cannot make it work, please send us a sample httpd.conf and a vhost configuration file, we will test it.