Stienes Longin and Vittorio Ghirelli won the races in the EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2 championship at the Automotodrom Grobnik on Saturday
Originally, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) planned to visit Most, Czech Republic, on November 14-15. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated regulations and safety measures, the race was moved to Grobnik in Croatia. The race track near the port city of Rijeka is well known to many motorsport fans, as the Yugoslavian Grand Prix of the World Motorcycle Championship was held here 13 times between 1978 and 1990.
Vittorio Ghirelli with start-finish victory in Saturday’s EuroNASCAR 2 race
The Italian Vittorio Ghirelli in the service of Hendriks Motorsport started from pole position and defended the first position against his team mate Tobias Dauenhauer. Dylan Derdaele (CAAL-Racing) followed behind the two Hendriks drivers in third. The trio broke away from the chasing pack at the beginning, but Derdaele lost touch with the two Hendriks Motorsport drivers as the race progressed.
A fierce battle for third place broke out around the halfway point of the race. Derdaele made a small mistake, which was immediately exploited by Nicholas Risitano (Solaris Motorsport), who followed close behind. Zolder double winner Martin Doubek (Hendriks Motorsport) saw his chance and pushed past Vladimiros Tziortzis (Alex Caffi Motorsport), who had been driving faultlessly until then. Alessandro Brigatti (Feed Vict Racing) also made a move on the Cypriot.
Derdaele lost some of his initial pace and lost ground on Risitano. Doubek not only defended his position against Tziortzis but also passed the Belgian.
A good race by Tziortzis so far was not crowned with success, because the Cypriot got off the track and got stuck in the gravel. In the end he was still ranked 15th. Until the end of the race, Derdaele defended his fifth position against Brigatti, followed by a solidly driving Julia Landauer (PK Carsport).
In the front the seats were occupied: Team Hendriks Motorsport celebrated a double victory with Ghirelli in first place and Dauenhauer in second. Risitano crossed the finish line in third place ahead of Doubek. It was Ghirelli’s second career win after Venray 2019, which also extended his lead in the overall standings.
“We have a good pace this weekend and we were up front in all sessions so far,” said the 26-year-old. “I thank my team Hendriks Motorsport, all my sponsors and my family. I hope we can keep it up for tomorrow. It was a good battle with my teammate Tobias, but I kept the rhythm and was able to be first under the checkered flag.”
Dauenhauer won the rookie classification ahead of Derdaele and Landauer. Landauer also secured victory in the Lady Trophy. Arianna Casoli had to forgo the start of the race after a crash in qualifying. Her car was not repaired in time.
Her team mate Massimiliano Lanza experienced the worst case scenario: He broke his wrist in a crash in qualifying. “I’m fine! ‘Only’ ️a broken wrist. I made a small mistake in a high-speed turn and crashed into the wall. Thanks to NASCAR, the roll cage did a great job protecting me and avoiding other problems! I will have surgery in Italy in the next few days and will be back in my #88 car as soon as possible,” said Lanza after his accident.
German Mirco Schultis (Mishumotors) secured victory in the Legend Trophy ahead of Yevgen Sokolovskiy (Marko Stipp Motorsport) and Frank Riedel, who was at the wheel of the #99 Chevrolet Camaro of DF1 Racing for the first time this weekend in the EuroNASCAR 2 championship.
Fifth winner in the fifth race of the season: Stienes Longin wins in the EuroNASCAR-PRO
Even before the start of the race, things were dramatic: Since the car with the #54 of the Italian team CAAL Racing was too badly damaged to be repaired in time, Gianmarco Ercoli unceremoniously switched to the #70 of Mishumotors – but he lost his fifth starting position and was moved to the rear of the field.
In addition to returnee Wilfried Boucenna, who is driving the #46 Chevrolet Camaro by Marko Stipp Motorsport this weekend, two newcomers to the EuroNASCAR PRO championship are on the grid: the only 16-year-old Mark Skulj (CAAL Racing) and the Croatian hillclimb legend Niko Pulic (Alex Caffi Motorsport).
Skulj, replacing Thomas Ferrando this weekend, qualified in a strong tenth position, while Pulic put his Ford Mustang on the 15th starting position. The pole position was secured by Giorgio Maggi (Hendriks Motorsport) ahead of Stienes Longin (PK Carsport).
The Belgian Longin got a good start and immediately passed Maggi. DF1 Racing drivers Nicolo Rocca and Lasse Soerensen followed in third and fourth place. Ercoli quickly gained ground in the rear midfield and ended up in twelfth place. Longin withstood all of Maggi’s attacks and in the meantime even managed to gain a small lead over the young Swiss.
The race was characterized by many duels in the front midfield. Four laps before the end the trio Longin, Maggi, Soerensen were in the first three positions. Loris Hezemans (Hendriks Motorsport) and Alon Day (PK Carsport) were in fourth and fifth followed by Rocca, Marc Goossens (CAAL Racing), Doubek and a strong Justin Kunz (DF1 Racing).
However, since overtaking is very difficult on the track, nothing changed in the positions until the end of the race. The local hero Pulic drove home a solid 14th place in his debut race. Longin finished in first place, securing the second EuroNASCAR PRO victory in his career and crowning himself the fifth race winner in the 2020 season.
“I’m very excited for the win here today,” said Longin. “I won the first time in EuroNASCAR PRO last year at Circuit Zolder and when you know how to win, it gets easier. Grobnik is a fast and fun track and it’s nice to be in Croatia. It was a nice battle with Giorgio but I know it’s hard to pass here. I hope it will rain tomorrow as I’m strong in those difficult conditions.”
Maggi secured the victory in the Junior Trophy with his second place overall. The Swiss finished directly ahead of Soerensen and Doubek. The Challenger Trophy was won by Davide Dallara (Not Only Motorsport) ahead of Pulic and Dario Caso (Feed Vict Racing).
Day leads the championship after the fifth race, ahead of Soerensen and Ercoli. Ercoli was happy to have been given the opportunity by team owner Mirco Schultis to switch to the Mishumotors car number 70 at short notice: “I am happy about the chance to do damage control. I am very grateful to Mishumotors for this opportunity. We will work hard to make the car even better for the race tomorrow.”