EuroNASCAR 2021: Loris Hezemans and Martin Doubek the champions
Loris Hezemans and Martin Doubek won both EuroNASCAR championships – Marko Stipp Motorsport drove to first title
Martin Doubek and Loris Hezemans are the shining champions of the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) season. The two Hendriks drivers secured both drivers’ titles and the team championship in the thrilling final rounds at Vallelunga, Italy. Marko Stipp Motorsport took victory in the Club Challenge with Gordon Barnes.
Jacques Villeneuve also had reason to celebrate: The 1997 Formula 1 World Champion was able to enter his name in the EuroNASCAR winners’ list for the first time – and did so twice, as the Canadian in the service of Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport won both races of the weekend in the EuroNASCAR PRO category.
Club Challenge: Barnes takes the title
But first things first: Before the practice sessions and races in the EuroNASCAR 2 and EuroNASCAR PRO categories were scheduled, the Club Challenge was held first. This is a regularity test in which the drivers have to hit a self-selected lap time as accurately as possible.
Barnes, who had already won the rounds in Valencia and Most, claimed his first title in this category, which was awarded on the final weekend in Vallelunga, Italy. This was also the first overall victory in one of the three EuroNASCAR categories for the German team Marko Stipp Motorsport.
For the Briton, a fourth place in the second session of this regularity test was enough for the championship win. The winner of the day was his teammate Andreas Kuchelbacher, who rounded off the success for Marko Stipp Motorsport in the Club Challenge. It was also the first double victory for the team from Germany.
EuroNASCAR 2: Perfect Saturday for Dauenhauer
The final weekend, in which double points were awarded, promised to be exciting: Dauenhauer secured pole position and thus created the perfect starting position for Saturday. His closest competitor and teammate Doubek started the race from grid position six. As a reminder, the two were separated by just three points before Saturday’s race.
Dauenhauer left no stone unturned and took the lead at the start, which he did not relinquish until the end of the race. He was not impressed by a caution on lap nine and defended his position against Doubek, who had fought his way up to second place in the meantime. With his fifth win of the season, the 23-year-old from Heppenheim increased his championship lead over Doubek to 13 points.
Francesco Garisto, in the service of 42 Racing, rounded off the podium, while a strong-driving Simon Pilate of DF1 Racing finished fourth. Victory in the Rookie Trophy was secured by young Finn Leevi Lintukanto of Iceboys-DF1-Racing ahead of Vict Motorsport driver Leonardo Colavita and Miguel Gomes in the colors of Marko Stipp Motorsport.
Victory in the Legend Trophy went to CAAL Racing’s Max Lanza, ahead of Gomes and Vict Motorsport’s Italian Colavita. In the Lady Trophy, the young Austrian Alina Loibnegger defeated the experienced CAAL Racing driver Arianna Casoli. However, Loibnegger made a mistake on the last lap, which is why there was a violent accident between the two. The Solaris driver was not proud to have won like that and refused to raise the trophy in the air on the podium.
EuroNASCAR 2: Heart-stopping finale on Sunday
In Sunday’s race it was once again Dauenhauer who, thanks to the fastest race lap the day before, started the race from pole position. But the starting phase was dramatic: a heavy crash between Academy Motorsport’s Vladimiros Tziortzis and DF1 Racing’s Pilate caused the first caution phase of the race.
Dauenhauer was also involved in this chaos and dropped back to fifth place as a result. At this time, Garisto was in the lead ahead of Doubek, who had moved up to second place. If the race had ended in this constellation, the title would have gone to Dauenhauer.
But Doubek fought his way past Garisto and so the pressure was on Dauenhauer, who now had to finish at least third to bring the title back to Heppenheim. The young German was on a mission and initially pushed past DF1 Racing’s Justin Kunz before bringing Garisto to his knees with a strong maneuver on lap seven. But on lap ten, Dauenhauer’s dream of the title was shattered when he went off the track and also hit the track barrier.
Unaffected, Doubek steered his Ford Mustang into Victory Lane to secure his first championship win. Second place went to Naveh Talor, who again claimed a top result after his victory in Zolder. The podium was completed by DF1 veteran Kunz.
This meant that all the titles in the EuroNASCAR 2 category were up for grabs: CAAL Racing driver Lanza secured the overall victory in the Legend Trophy ahead of Yevgen Sokolovskiy and Gomes – both drivers from Marko Stipp Motorsport. The Rookie classification went to Alberto Panebianco of Not Only Motorsport, who was scored ahead of Lintukantu and Gomes.
In the women’s classification Arianna Casoli played her routine and took the championship ahead of Alina Loibnegger. It was her third title in the special classification, which she now leads alone in the all-time standings. Loibnegger took the race win again to round off a strong debut season.
EuroNASCAR PRO: An F1 champion at the top
Similar to the EuroNASCAR 2 category, the championship situation in EuroNASCAR PRO was very tight and there were several aspirants still in contention for the overall victory. Hendriks Motorsport’s Hezemans led the standings with just 21 points ahead of Vittorio Ghirelli. The Italian changed teams shortly before the final and now drove for Not Only Motorsport.
Just two more points behind, Gianmarco Ercoli of CAAL Racing followed close behind. Also still in with a chance of winning the title were Speedhouse driver Lucas Lasserre and reigning champion Alon Day, who had returned to CAAL Racing for the 2021 season. So there was plenty of excitement.
In the first race of the EuroNASCAR PRO, it was the 1997 Formula 1 World Champion Villeneuve of Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport who moved into the lead on the first lap – but he was given a five-second time penalty for a false start. This penalty was to play a weighty role in the further course of the race.
Behind Villeneuve, a lively battle for positions raged. Day attacked the front-runner at the start but, due to problems with his car, not only had to let the Canadian go but also lost second place to Ercoli. Then it got dramatic: Hezemans touched Day on the rear, which resulted in a retirement for the Israeli champion.
Hezemans received a drive-through penalty for this action, which sent him back to tenth place. Ercoli, for his part, fought a duel with Ghirelli for second place – which Ghirelli ultimately won. The big beneficiary was Villeneuve, who managed to build up a lead of over six seconds on the runner-up and was therefore allowed to turn into Victory Lane despite his time penalty.
With his third place overall, Ercoli secured victory in the Junior Trophy, ahead of Hendriks Motorsport’s Giorgio Maggi from Switzerland and Iceboys driver Luka Numi. Victory in the Challenger Trophy went to Davide Dallara in Not Only Motorsport colors, who finished ahead of Iceboys-DF1 driver Henri Tuomaala and Sokolovskiy of Marko Stipp Motorsport.
As a result, the situation for Sunday’s all-important race had become even tighter: Hezemans’ lead over Ghirelli was now only five points, Ercoli had moved to within nine points of the Dutchman. Should one of the three win the final race of the season, he would also clinch the championship with this victory.
EuroNASCAR PRO: Hezemans grabs the title
Initially, Hezemans moved into the lead at the start ahead of Villeneuve, but had to relinquish this position on the tenth lap to the Canadian, who gave no quarter behind Hezemans. After Day, who had already had to bury all chances of winning the title the day before, it was now Ghirelli who was robbed of all hopes of winning the title by a crash due to brake problems.
As Villeneuve continued to extend his lead at the front, the “Flying Dutchman” was no longer taking any unnecessary risks. Fifth place would be enough for him to win the championship. So he let Ercoli pass first, then Day and Lasserre as well, and secured his second title with this fifth place.
Hezemans will focus on the US next year, competing in various NASCAR Cup Series races as well as the NASCAR Xfinity Series. His father, Toine Hezemans, and his business partner Ernst Berg have formed Team Hezeberg powered by Reaume Brothers Racing, which will field a Next Gen Mustang in the Cup Series.
Although he narrowly missed out on overall victory, Ercoli also had reason to celebrate as the Roman secured the Junior Trophy title. Second place in the category for riders under the age of 25 at the start of the season went to Maggi from Switzerland, who finished ahead of RDV Competition rider Ulysse Delsaux. The Frenchman had to skip the two final races after a violent training accident.
The championship win in the Challenger Trophy went to Henri Tuomaala of Iceboys-DF1-Racing. He finished ahead of defending champion Dallara and Sokolovskiy. With this race, the 2021 NWES season was now in the books. The opening races for the 2022 season are scheduled for April 9 and 10 at the Baden Motodrom in Hockenheim – and of course, as usual, all practice runs and races will again be live on the Leadlap.de Facebook page.