NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

EuroNASCAR Grobnik: Day on record hunt, Ghirelli with double win

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Last Sunday two EuroNASCAR races took place at the Automotodrom Grobnik in Croatia – While Alon Day was victorious in the EuroNASCAR PRO championship, Vittorio Ghirelli prevailed in the EuroNASCAR 2 series

Alon Day grabbed his 22nd EuroNASCAR PRO victory in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) at the Automotodrom Grobnik, tying Ander Vilarino’s all-time record. In the EuroNASCAR 2 championship, Hendriks Motorsport’s Vittorio Ghirelli prevailed, crowning a perfect weekend in Croatia.

Day had reason to celebrate

For the EuroNASCAR PRO race, the track had dried out so far except for a few wet spots, so the drivers all started the afternoon race on slicks. Day (PK Carsport) immediately converted his pole position into the lead, with Loris Hezemans (Hendriks Motorsport) and previous day’s winner Stienes Longin (PK Carsport) in pursuit. Behind the top trio followed the DF1 racing duo, consisting of Nicolo Rocca and Lasse Soerensen.

Although they were all close together, there was no action with the crowbar and the drivers watched each other to wait for the right moment to overtake.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Lucas Lasserre (Mishumotors) was struggling with technical problems on his car: Parts flew over the track and finally the Frenchman rolled out at the end of the main straight. Initially, the yellow flags were only waved locally at this point, but after a very short time the race control decided to deploy the safety car, so that the marshals could recover the stranded car.

Once again it was Day who parried Hezemans’ attacks at the restart and led the field ahead of the Dutchman, Longin, Rocca and Sörensen. In the rear midfield Niko Pulic (Alex Caffi Motorsport) had issues with his car, who had been driving solidly until then. He had to park his car with a broken front suspension.

There was not much time left for position improvements, so the drivers were much more aggressive. The two Hendriks Motorsport drivers Giorgio Maggi and Martin Doubek clashed in a duel for a good spot inside the top-10. Doubek saved himself back on the track at first, but after this action both drivers had to return to the pits and retire.

Meanwhile, Rocca had fought his way past Longin, but the Belgian didn’t want to give up and take back the position. This resulted in a dicey situation that forced Longin to move to the green. He made a spectacular off-road ride, but it took him back to eighth place.

Rocca was not unscathed either, as this situation earned him a 30-second time penalty that threw him back to 13th place after the race.

In the end, it was Alon Day, who crossed the finish line as the winner. It was not only his second victory of the season, but also the 22nd NWES victory in his career. The Israeli  is now tied with Ander Vilarino for the all-time record of EuroNASCAR victories.

“It’s an amazing feeling”, said Day, who grabbed the pole position by posting the fastest lap in the first EuroNASCAR PRO race at Automotodrom Grobnik. “The PK Carsport team put so much work into the Camaro. Unfortunately Qualifying didn’t work out yesterday but we made the best out of the situation. I’m tied with Ander for the all-time record and that is something I’m really happy about.”

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Second place went to Hezemans ahead of Soerensen, who secured victory in the Junior Trophy. Second on the Junior podium was Gianmarco Ercoli, who finished fifth overall.

The special thing about it: Ercoli was driving a car from Mishumotors, as his actual #54 car was too badly damaged in the EuroNASCAR 2 qualifying. The podium was completed by Justin Kunz (DF1 Racing), who showed a very solid performance.

Mauro Trione (CAAL Racing) won the Challenger classification ahead of Davide Dallara (Not Only Motorsport) and Yevgen Sokolovskiy (Marko Stipp Motorsport).

With 214 points, Day now moves on to Valencia as the leader of the standings. The final races of the 2020 season are scheduled for early December. He is followed by Soerensen (200 points) and Ercoli (196 points). Hezemans (189 points) and Longin (188 points) also have a good chance to be part of the championship battle, as double points will be awarded in the final races.

Ghirelli celebrated double victory in the EuroNASCAR 2 series

The Sunday race of the EuroNASCAR 2 championship in Grobnik, Croatia, was declared a “wet race”, which meant: Free choice of tires. However, the track was still too wet for experiments, which is why all drivers started on rain tires.

Arianna Casoli (CAAL Racing) was back on the grid. As her team mate Max Lanza was unable to take part in the race due to his wrist injury, which he had sustained in an accident in qualifying the day before, the Italian took over his seat in the #88 car. Her actual #54 car was too badly damaged by the crash on Saturday morning, which made it impossible to repair it on site during the race weekend.

Vittorio Ghirelli (Hendriks Motorsport) secured the pole position with his fastest lap in Saturday’s race. He was followed by his teammate Tobias Dauenhauer and Solaris Motorsport driver Nicholas Risitano.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

The field set off on its journey after a single-file start behind the safety car and, as on the day before, it was Ghirelli grabbed the lead at the start. Dauenhauer and Risitano lined up behind him, but fourth place was already occupied by Martin Doubek (Hendriks Motorsport), who had won both races at Zolder under similar conditions.

At first Doubek could not find a way past Risitano and after an overtaking attempt he even lost a position to Alessandro Brigatti (Feed Vict Racing). While Doubek set out to reclaim the position, Vladimiros Tziortzis, in the service of Alex Caffi Motorsport, joined the battlegroup.

Risitano had to give in to Doubek who was on a mission. The Italian then clashed with Brigatti: there was contact and several pieces of debris were scattered along the track.

However, there was no safety car phase and Doubek went in pursuit of Dauenhauer, who he passed only a short time later. Casoli was lined up to overtake, which Doubek took advantage of to gain a small lead over Dauenhauer. Risitano had fallen back to tenth place at this point due to a spin.

Shortly before the end Francesco Garisto (Marko Stipp Motorsport) and Tziortzis fought hard for fourth place. Unimpressed by the fights behind him, Ghirelli crossed the finish line first, ahead of Doubek and Dauenhauer.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Garisto finished fourth but the Italian did not respect the track limits in the fight with Tziortzis, which earned him a ten-second time penalty that ultimately washed him down to eighth place. Dylan Derdaele (CAAL Racing) secured fifth place ahead of Julia Landauer (PK Carsport), who scored her second Lady Trophy victory of the weekend.

Especially remarkable: the podium of the overall standings consisted exclusively of drivers from Hendriks Motorsport. The team from the Netherlands made EuroNASCAR history with this triple victory, because it’s the first team to achieve such an achievement.

“The conditions were not easy, it was slippery and wet,” said Ghirelli, who scored his third NWES career win. “Thanks to the team Hendriks Motorsport for such a great car. I tried to get the maximum out of it every lap. I also thank my supporters and my family. I was very confident in the car today and I’m happy about leading the championship ahead of Valencia.”

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Dauenhauer secured victory in the rookie classification ahead of Tziortzis and Derdaele. In the Legends Trophy Yevgen Sokolovskiy (Marko Stipp Motorsport) was on the top step of the podium, followed by Mirco Schultis (Mishumotors) and Frank Riedel (DF1 Racing). Before the final races in Valencia, Ghirelli now leads the overall standings ahead of Dauenhauer and Brigatti.

Frank Reipen