Ercoli rages after clashing with Hezemans: “The kids need to show respect!”

Ercoli rages after clashing with Hezemans: “The kids need to show respect!”
Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

Gianmarco Ercoli and Liam Hezemans clashed in the second EuroNASCAR PRO race in Spain – Ercoli is demanding more respect from the young talents

“If you are on the race track you have to switch on your brain and show respect,” said CAAL Racing driver Gianmarco Ercoli after the second race of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in Valencia, Spain. After a contact and a resulting puncture, the Italian was relegated to 14th place in the second EuroNASCAR PRO race. He called out reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion Liam Hezemans for his behavior on the track.

What happened? The second EuroNASCAR PRO race at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo had more than one controversy. On a restart, Ercoli was supposed to lead the field to the green flag, but it was Hezemans who was inches ahead of the leader before approaching the restart zone. This was a potential infraction that would normally cause race officials to issue a 10-second or drive-through penalty. But the starter at the flag stand waved the green flag too early, allowing Hezemans to accelerate and take the lead.

The result was a forced jump start by Hezemans caused by the starter and race control was looking for a fair and clear solution to the situation. Hezemans and Ercoli had to change positions to restore the original order. Hezemans was not penalized for the starter’s mistake, while Ercoli regained his position from the Dutchman, who was clearly ahead of the Italian at the restart.

An intense battle for the win ensued as Hezemans tried everything in his Hendriks Toyota to regain the lead and take his second win of the season. During the battle with the CAAL Racing driver, Hezemans left the track and tried to rejoin the racing line. He made contact with Ercoli and as a result Hezemans went into the gravel. Ercoli was able to continue, but a few turns later he suffered a puncture that destroyed his tire.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

Ercoli had to pit for a tire change, which cost him several positions. Hezemans was penalized for his actions after the race: he received a ten-second penalty and three conduct warning points were added to his tally. According to the stewards, he rejoined the track in an unsafe manner and the Dutchman was therefore held responsible for the incident.

“I’m racing in a professional category with kids. The kids are fast, but they don’t have the strategy. The race was okay and that car is faster than mine. I don’t understand the overtake attempt at that moment. They [kids] race all the time on the PC, but not in real life,” says Ercoli after the race in the live interview.

Hezemans apologized for his action after the race: “I think I made a small mistake there with Ercoli as I was on the outside and wanted to rejoin the track. I didn’t have enough space so I would have been pushed into the gravel trap. Maybe I rejoined the track too early and I’m sorry for this”, says the Dutchman about the crash. Hezemans also apologized to Ercoli in person after the race. The Italian accepted the apology but states: “He’s a good and fast guy but if I don’t get the respect I will fight for it.”

There was a second incident in the race when Vittorio Ghirelli and Vladimiros collided on the final lap of the race while battling for the lead. Both were moved down the order and in the end it was Lucas Lasserre in his Speedhouse Ford who took advantage of the situation. The Frenchman won his first race since 2018 and made a visit to Victory Lane. Thanks to his win in the second race, he is now the overall leader in the EuroNASCAR PRO.

André Wiegold