NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

For license course: Simon Pilate borrowed his sister’s road car

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Before his first NWES race at the Circuit Zolder, Simon Pilate only completed two laps on his home track: he drove his sister’s Audi A1 to get his license

“I didn’t drive really fast in order not to crash the car,” joked Simon Pilate to ‘Leadlap.net’ about his first laps at Circuit Zolder. Even before the 18-year-old contested his first race on his hometrack, he had to obtain his racing license on the traditional road course. To do so, Pilate borrowed his sister’s Audi A1, because the Belgian has no driving license and no car of his own.

“I only drove two laps in the Audi A1, so I can’t claim to know the track well,” Pilate continued about his bizarre license course. “I did one lap alone in the car and one with an instructor. After he gave me my racing license, he said that I could have driven faster. But he understood my driving style because there were many other cars on the track.”

The first home race at Circuit Zolder

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dahaese

Last weekend Pilate returned to his hometrack in the forests of Limburg to drive his first race in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. After a difficult start to the season in Vallelunga with two retirements, the talented driver of Feed Vict Racing wanted to rehabilitate himself with good results.

In the EuroNASCAR 2 qualifying session Pilate really turned up the heat and grabbed fifth place on the grid for the third race of the season on a damp track. The pace was there, but now the young Belgian had to finally complete a race for the first time. But in Saturday’s race Pilate had a lot of bad luck again: the 18-year-old had to retire early again due to a contact with Andreas Jochimsen.

Pilate also failed to complete a fast race lap, which is why he started from 19th place in the second race. That race was his breakthrough: The Belgian managed to stay out of all incidents and completed his first NWES race in a solid seventh place.

“I really had bad luck in the first few races and to have finally finished one is really satisfying,” said Pilate. “I was motivated to show everyone that I can be fast in the race as well. In the second race I made up a lot of positions in four laps. I also managed to finish fifth in qualifying on a wet track, even though it was my first time driving in the rain.”

Even though Pilate is haunted by bad luck, he believes in his skills: “If my races had gone better, I would certainly be in the top 5 now. In Most and Valencia I will give everything to get there in the overall standings. But the level in the championship is very high.”

Motorsport a team sport

Credits: Michael Großgarten

The Belgian also knows that he owes his good result in the second race to his team Feed Vict Racing. The new NWES team of Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Lemarie, Onofrio Veneziani and Dario Caso worked hard on the #6 car to give Pilate the foundation for his first top-10 result in the NWES.

“This weekend we saw that motorsport is a team sport,” said the Belgian. “The mechanics did a great job and repaired the car after Patrick’s race. It was just great to give the team a podium in the last race of the weekend.” Pilate secured third place in the Rookie Trophy with his seventh place overall, which is why he was allowed to climb on the podium for the first time.

Pilate was visibly surprised by this after the race: “I didn’t expect this when I parked the car in the pits. Suddenly someone came up to me and said: ‘Podium! Podium!’ They got me out of the car and took me to the podium.”

For the Belgian, the first homerace was a weekend of “ups and downs”. But one thing Pilate will certainly remember: the first ride in an EuroNASCAR car at Circuit Zolder. “It’s a great track, especially when you fly over the curbs in the chicanes with a NWES car.”

On November 14-15, Pilate will travel with Feed Vict Racing to the Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic. Rounds 5 and 6 in the extremely tight EuroNASCAR 2 championship promise excitement and further drama in the title fight. Pilate aims to jump from 15th place in the overall standings towards the top 10.