Marko Stipp Motorsport collected leading laps in the NWES for the first time under the new name – The team boss put all his money on one card with Romain Iannetta, but was not rewarded for the risk in the end
Suddenly, Marko Stipp Motorsport’s #46 car was leading the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) race at the Czech Autodrom Most. Romain Iannetta, who had signed a contract with the German team just a few days before the event, stayed out on slicks for a long time in the rain and led two laps of the EuroNASCAR PRO race thanks to the poker. However, the risk was ultimately not rewarded: The Frenchman had to pit and dropped back to 17th place.
But what had happened? In Saturday’s EuroNASCAR PRO race the drivers started on slicks and a dry track, but worried glances at the sky early on showed that many team bosses were expecting showers during the 17 laps. On lap four, the floodgates opened and rain began to fall. Iannetta, who now has 67 NWES races under his belt, felt comfortable on slicks despite the wet track, so team boss Marko Stipp decided to not call the #46 car to the pits.
Victory was the goal
The poker seemed to work out: The Frenchman led a total of two laps and clearly pulled away from the competition, which had already come into the pits to pick up rain tires. “I was looking at the sky and hoping it wouldn’t keep raining,” Stipp told ‘Leadlap.net’ after the race. “If the rain hadn’t gotten heavier, we would have had a good chance to win. We put all our on one card to be able to park the car in Victory Lane.”
The former race driver tinkered with the strategy and had his instructions passed on to both EuroNASCAR PRO drivers. However, the showers were getting stronger and stronger, which is why it was no longer possible for Iannetta to control the car. Actually, the Chevrolet Camaro was supposed to pit one lap earlier, but Iannetta didn’t seem to hear the instruction. Only after a ride into the gravel trap, the 41-year-old dived into the pits.
Strong pit stops, strategy call went wrong
Without any practice, the mechanics then had to dismantle the slicks and strap on the rain tires. “The guys did an incredible job – both with Romain and Yevgen [Sokolovskiy]. You could see how exhausting it was for them and I have the utmost respect for that performance. In comparison, we were very fast and showed what we’re capable of.”
However, the pit stop also meant the end of the fight for victory. Iannetta, who also received a penalty for a contact with Alon Day, ultimately dropped back to 17th place. Had it not rained harder, the Frenchman would have had a good chance of winning despite the penalty. “I was calculating all the time in the pits, what lap times we needed and what the competition was allowed to do. When the poker didn’t work, we called Romain into the pits,” said Stipp, who acted as the chief strategist.
Although the results don’t reflect it, it was an extremely successful weekend for Marko Stipp Motorsport, as the team showed its potential to challenge for top positions. In qualifying, Iannetta put the #46 Chevrolet Camaro in sixth place out of 24 competitors. With the fourth fastest lap in Saturday’s race, he was fourth on the grid on Sunday. In the race, however, the team and the Frenchman were unable to transform the pace into a good result.