NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

Gordon Barnes set for NWES debut: Have to learn to shift gears again

Marko Stipp Motorsport

Gordon Barnes will make his NWES debut in the 2020 season for Marko Stipp Motorsport in the Club Challenge – The oval specialist must get used to driving on the round courses

With Gordon Barnes, Marko Stipp Motorsport has signed a secret favourite for the title in the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) Club Challenge. But the Briton, who for years has only driven on ovals, first has to get used to driving on the road courses. Shifting gears in particular is a real challenge for Barnes.

The experienced Late Model driver told ‘Leadlap.net’: “The differences between the cars [NWES car and Late Model] is mainly gearbox and differential. I’ve spent a long time on the ovals without the need to change gears. Getting back into the rhythm of doing that will be the first problem. Add to that, braking. These circuits have long braking zones where you need to select the right gear at the right time. Running the Club Challenge gives me seat time in getting used to that.”

Despite these hurdles, Barnes still sees a chance to be among the front runners in the 2020 season: “My main goal for the Club Challenge is to get experience with the car. I think that it would be possible to fight for the Club Challenge title. It’s a different style of competition but I think we can look towards that as our goal.”

The EuroNASCAR Club Challenge is the NWES regulatory based series. In three 30-minute sessions, the race organizers set a reference time that the drivers have to confirm as best they can. The driver who is most consistent and has the least margin from the reference time wins the race. So the Club Challenge is not about being the fastest driver on the grid.

“I haven’t done anything like this before, it’s going to be interesting and a new challenge,” admitted Barnes, who has always competed in ordinary races – like in the V8 Oval Series at Raceway Venray or the CAMSO V8 at Speedway Warneton. “Learning how to make the right pace over a lap will be key here.”

Test with Marko Stipp Motorsport in Zolder

Gordon Barnes (left) – Credits: Marko Stipp Motorsport

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series 2020 will kick off the new season on September 12-13 in Vallelunga, Italy. Due to the latest changes in the NWES calendar, it’s not clear where the Club Challenge sessions will be held. Before the first rated run, Barnes and his new team have already tested at the Circuit Zolder.

“I spent most of my time trying to relearn gear selection, braking, etc. and didn’t look to set any lap times,” he said. “There are places I know I could have gone quicker. That wasn’t the day to set times for me. It was fun being back at a circuit. I haven’t been to one in eight months.”

Many racers use the EuroNASCAR Club Challenge to get used to the car, the environment and the tracks, and then move up to the competitive EuroNASCAR 2 championship. Barnes also has this goal, but there is a second component that is crucial: the budget. Starting in the EuroNASCAR-2 series is significantly more expensive, which is why Barnes “has to work hard” to advance to the next level in 2021.