NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

EuroNASCAR PRO in Most: Day breaks curse, Ghirelli takes first win

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

Alon Day finished a NWES race in Most for the first time and won straight away – In addition, Vittorio Ghirelli took his first EuroNASCAR PRO win

Alon Day had unfinished business to settle: After failing to finish either of the two races at Most in the Czech Republic in 2019, he put his name on the winners’ list last Saturday after a chaotic race. But just one day later, the error devil struck again and Day was shuffled down to 17th place.

Things went better for Vittorio Ghirelli: The Italian put the #50 Ford Mustang from the Dutch team Hendriks Motorsport in fourth place in Saturday’s race and secured his first victory in the highest class of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) in Sunday’s race. But first things first!

Credtis: Michael Großgarten / Leadlap.de

Saturday’s race

An eventful race was literally in the air, as it was only a matter of time before it would start raining. Immediately after the start, several drivers crashed into each other. Not-Only Motorsport driver Andrea Nori hit the rear of Vittorio Ghirelli, who is racing for Hendriks Motorsport.

CAAL Racing driver and reigning champion Alon Day did not escape unscathed either, as he too was involved in the starting accident. The resulting spin initially knocked the Israeli out of the top 10. Likewise, Jacques Villeneuve in the Academy Motorsport Alex Caffi car and Giorgio Maggi of Hendriks Motorsport clashed.

As was to be feared, heavy rain soon set in and Loris Hezemans took the lead. But instead of coming into the pits to change to rain tires, Hezemans played poker, wanting to stay on the track with slicks for as long as possible. The majority of the field, on the other hand, headed for the pits to get rain tires, while Romain Iannetta of Marko Stipp Motorsport was now in the lead, but was then overtaken by former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Like Hezemans, neither had yet pitted.

The safe recovery of the stranded car of Francesco Sini of Solaris Motorsport necessitated a safety car period, which the other drivers now also used to change tires. The CAAL Racing crew did a remarkable job, as Day led the field at the restart, although he had been involved in another accident shortly before the tire change. The Israeli did not relinquish this position until the checkered flag, celebrating a surprise victory.

Credits: Michael Großgarten / Leadlap.de

“I really don’t know what happened in the first lap”, said Day. “I saw that Villeneuve was tapped and then I got bumped from behind and just spun. Being able to overcome that is just amazing. Immediately when the rain started to fall, the CAAL Racing guys did an amazing job. They mounted the rain tires and that’s why the win belongs to them! I was just a passenger and the conditions were extremely hard as the rain fell down so hard. I thank CAAL Racing, Monster Energy and everybody at home as well as at the track watching. I bet it was a spectacular race for all of you!”

It was a double victory for CAAL Racing, as Day’s teammate Gianmarco Ercoli finished in second place, also securing victory in the Junior Trophy. The podium was completed by veteran and DF1 Racing driver Marc Goossens.

Second place in the Junior Trophy went to Maggi ahead of young Frenchman Ulysse Delsaux of RDV Competition. Winner in the Challenger Trophy was Henri Tuomaala ahead of Yevgen Sokolovskyi of Marko Tipp Motorsport and Slovak Michaela Dorcikova of Academy Motorsport Alex Caffi.

Sunday’s race

Sunday’s race started the way Saturday’s race had ended – chaotic. Several cars were involved in a crash at the start and it was Vittorio Ghirelli of Hendriks Motorsport who came through the starting chaos without any damages and moved into the lead.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

Behind him, the two Dutchmen Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Hezemans were fighting for second place. This played into Ghirelli’s hands, because it allowed him to pull away from his pursuers at the front and drive home a safe victory.

Alon Day was made to feel that joy and sorrow sometimes lie close together. The previous day’s winner was again struck by a defect on lap six, forcing the Israeli to make a pit stop. When his crew opened the hood, smoke came out of the engine and Day climbed out of the car. This meant the race was over for him – even if he was still classified in 17th place in the end. For the Israeli, it was another unfinished race in the 2021 season.

On lap eleven, Hezemans sounded the attack and pushed past his compatriot. While he held this position until the checkered flag, Bleekemolen had to defend his third place against Villeneuve. However, the Canadian ran out of laps and failed to make up any ground. In the end, he had to settle for fourth place.

“It was a fantastic win”, said Ghirelli in Victory Lane. “We led every single lap and I got into a good rhythm. We were able to control the race and manage the gap. What can I say? The Hendriks team did an amazing job. The championship battle is on and we keep believing and keep pushing.”

Credits: Michael Großgarten / Leadlap.de

The Junior Trophy winner was Ghirelli’s teammate Maggi, who edged out Delsaux and Ercoli. As on the previous day, Iceboys DF1 Racing driver Tuomaala secured victory in the Challenger Trophy ahead of Dorcikova and Sokolovskyi.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series returns in three weeks – on September 18 and 19 – for the NASCAR GP of Croatia at the Automotodrom Grobnik near Rijeka. Qualifying and all races will be broadcast on the Leadlap.de / Leadlap.net Facebook page.

Frank Reipen