Hendriks driver Vittorio Ghirelli crowned himself champion at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain – The championship was decided in the last race of the season
The season finale of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) in Valencia, Spain, could not have been more dramatic: After his victories on Friday, Vittorio Ghirelli (Hendriks Motorsport) seemed to have already reached the championship finish line, but technical problems threw the Italian back on Saturday. Thus his teammate and EuroNASCAR rookie Tobias Dauenhauern was back in the title battle. The decision was therefore only made in the last race on Sunday.
In the first race of the weekend on Friday Ghirelli started from pole position. In the championship he had a lead of 13 points over his chaser and teammate Dauenhauer.
The cars were on slicks on the grid when a small rain shower caused a slightly damp surface. Although the shower passed very quickly and the sun came out again, there was still a little rain in the first and second corners, which made the opening stage of the race very difficult for the drivers.
Ghirelli won the start ahead of Martin Doubek (Hendriks Motorsport) and pulled away at the front. Giovanni Trione (CAAL Racing) got stuck in the gravel after a few corners on the first lap. Simon Pilate (Feed Vict Racing) was also off track, which is why the safety car had to move out.
During the safety car phase it started to rain again slightly. At the restart Ghirelli defended his lead, but Doubek put a lot of pressure on the leader. However, Ghirelli parried all attacks and secured victory ahead of Doubek and Nicholas Risitano (Solaris Motorsport. Dauenhauer finished fourth and thus maintained his chances in the championship.
Ghirelli wins second race under yellow
As Ghirelli had set the fastest lap in the first race, the Italian started the second race from pole position. He immediately converted the first place on the grid into a lead. The race driver from Fasano quickly pulled away at the front, but there were several intense battles behind the Italian.
Julia Landauer (PK Carsport) showed a strong and remarkable performance. The US American had several door-to-door duels, which finally brought her to fifth place.
Ghireli’s toughest competitor from the first race, Doubek, got off the track right at the start. Due to a fight with Risitano he lost further positions, but the Czech fought his way back to fourth place.
Risitano, who at this point also still had a chance of winning the championship, was involved in numerous duels. A second incident forced the Solaris driver to park his car after nine laps. As a result, the title win fell into the far distance.
Towards the end of the race, things got dramatic: Eric Quintal (Mishumotors) crashed into the wall and Mirco Schultis (Mishumotors) also got stuck in the gravel after a contact with Dylan Derdaele (CAAL Racing), so the safety car had to be deployed.
Ghirelli won under yellow, while title candidate Dauenhauer stayed out of all fights and brought home a safe third place behind Ghirelli and Alessandro Brigatti (Feed Vict Racing). The German thus remained in a promising position in the title duell. It was Ghirelli’s fourth win in a row, which clearly underlined his title ambitions.
Issues for Ghirelli in the first final race on Saturday
Dauenhauer drove the fastest lap in qualifying for the EuroNASCAR Finals and thus secured the pole position for the first race. The German got a perfect start and took the lead, which he did not give up until the end of the race.
Ghirelli was initially in second position and tried to catch up with his teammate. But technical issues slowed him down. The previous championship leader had to park his car on lap 13. However, the Italian was still classified in 16th place.
Considering the fact that double points were awarded in the two final races, this was obviously a major setback for Ghirelli. Due to his sovereign victory Dauenhauer now took the lead in the standings with only eight points ahead of his Italian team mate.
Second was Vladimiros Tziortzis (Alex Caffi Motorsport / Race Art Technology) ahead of a strong driving Julia Landauer. For both of them it was their first visit on the overall podium in the 2020 season. So suspense was guaranteed in the second final race on Sunday. because for both Dauenhauer and Ghirelli it was now “hop or top”.
Ghirelli takes the crown in the second race
The starting position for the second final race, which was held on Sunday, was clear: Dauenhauer or Ghirelli – whoever finishes first is the champion. The German had the better starting position, because he started from pole position as he had done the day before, while Ghirelli had to start the race from 9th place. In this sense, Dauenhauer had to keep his team mate behind him – but that was easier said than done.
Dauenhauer won the start, but Ghirelli literally drove with a knife between his teeth and was already second on lap two. Due to a caution, the Italian had to regain fourth place before the restart, but his chase continued after the restart.
At first he fought his way past Risitano, and a little later also past the strongly driving Tziortzis, thus pushing himself into second place. Thereupon he went in pursuit of his team mate Dauenhauer.
But Dauenhauer fought with blunt weapons, because the error devil, which had struck Ghirelli the day before, now made Dauenhauer’s life difficult. So Ghirelli passed his teammate at the halfway point of the race. Risitano and Tziortzis also overtook the German and took second and third place. Ghirelli, however, was not only the glorious winner of the race but also the winner of the championship.
“It was a very tough race but I had only one option and it was winning it,” said the new EuroNASCAR 2 champion in victory lane. “The car was perfect thanks to the awesome Hendriks Motorsport team. After the drama yesterday with the broken engine, I had to comeback from ninth on the grid and make it happen. We did it. Congratulations to my teammate Tobias, who is an incredibly fast race car driver. He really pushed me to the limits this year. Now I just want to celebrate this championship win.”
A reason to smile for Dauenhauer: he won the Rookie Trophy ahead of Tziortzis and Landauer. The fast American thus also secured victory in the Lady Trophy ahead of Arianna Casoli, who in turn won the Legend Trophy for riders over 40 for the first time. Besides Casoli, Yevgen Sokolovskiy (Marko Stipp Motorsport) and Eric Quintal (Mishumotors) completed the overall podium in the Legend Trophy.