The four free practice sessions that opened the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at the iconic Circuit Ricardo Tormo in sunny Valencia are in the books. In EuroNASCAR PRO, 2019 NWES Champion Loris Hezemans topped the standings at the wheel of his #7 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang while Vladimiros Tziortzis was the fastest driver in the combined results of EuroNASCAR 2 in his #1 Ford Mustang.
The Flying Dutchman in first place
Hezemans was on fire in both 30-minute free practice sessions on Friday in Spain. The Dutchman clocked a 1:41.640 lap in Final Practice which was fast enough to lead the standings. The 23-year-old beat his teammate and reigning EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Vittorio Ghirelli, who was 0.523 seconds slower at the wheel of the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang. Gianmarco Ercoli, wearing the colors of CAAL Racing, ended up third and led the Junior Trophy with a 0.723-second gap on Hezemans.
Returning Sebastiaan Bleekemolen showed that he never lost a bit of his pace after skipping the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Dutchman clocked a 1:42.842 lap to claim fourth place in the combined results and topped the Challenger Trophy standings. DF1 Racing’s Nicolo Rocca, another Italian title candidate, closed the top-5 with a solid rund and a margin of 0.931 seconds on Hezemans.
Another returnee ended up sixth: Frederic Gabillon, who’s back with RDV Competition in the #3 car. Former Formula One Champion Jacques Villeneuve was seventh with the newly formed Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport team. The Canadian was followed by 2019 EuroNASCAR 2 runner-up Giorgio Maggi and his teammate Thomas Ferrando from France in ninth. Solaris Motorsport’s Francesco Sini rounded out the top-10 with a 1:43.341-lap.
Reigning champion Alon Day was forced to skip both practice sessions due to the tense situation in Israel, but finally made it to the track. Given the exceptional circumstances, Day will be allowed 15 minutes on track on Saturday morning before Qualifying.
Fast, faster, Tziortzis
The first Cypriot to join the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2020, Tziortzis managed to top the combined Free Practice standings for the first time. The Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver clocked a 1:42.372-lap in the first of two 30-minute sessions. He was followed by 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 runner-up Tobias Dauenhauer who was just 0.222 seconds slower at the wheel of his #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang.
After having won his first two EuroNASCAR races in 2020, Martin Doubek is still on a roll. Dauenhauer’s teammate ended up third, 0.544 seconds shy of Tziortzis. The Club Motorsport’s Fabrizio Armetta showed a strong pace by closing practice fourth overall and first in the Legend Trophy rank. Pierluigi Veronesi maneuvered his #27 Double V Racing car to fifth place.
Belgian youngster Simon Pilate clocked the sixth fastest lap for DF1 Racing that put him ahead of CAAL Racing’s Max Lanza and returnee Advait Deodhar from India. 42 Racing’s Francesco Garisto and German NWES veteran Justin Kunz completed the top-10, while Alberto Panebianco was the fastest rookie in 15th at the wheel of the #89 Not Only Motorsport Camaro.
As for Alon Day, Naveh Talor also missed practice while traveling from Israel. The Not Only Motorsport driver will also get 15 minutes of practice on the Circuit Ricardo Tormo due to the exceptional circumstances before Saturday’s Qualifying.
The 2021 NWES season will kick off on May 15-16 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. Qualifying and races will be streamed live on EuroNASCAR’s social media channels – YouTube, Facebook, Twitch – and Motorsport.tv.