“This was the first of four wins I have to score to become the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion,” said Gianmarco Ercoli after a dominant win at Circuit Zolder in EuroNASCAR PRO. The Italian overtook pole setter Vittorio Ghirelli on turn 1 and brought home his second win of the season. The CAAL Racing driver closed the gap on championship leader Alon Day, who finished 11th after starting from 16th on the grid.
Ercoli had a great start to the race and beat his fellow countryman in a drag race to turn 1. With a spectacular move on the outside, the Italian took the lead and started to build a gap on Ghirelli. At the wheel of his smooth running #54 Chevrolet Camaro, the 2015 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion led all laps to win the race and keep his title hopes alive.
“I had a very good race, I started very fast and it’s important after the qualifying this morning. I only took second position, but I’m sure I have very good speed with the slick tires and I showed my performance! The difference for me was the line because the outside lane was dry and the inside lane had some water, so Vittorio didn’t start very well and I immediately got past him to the first corner. Now I think only about tomorrow,” said Ercoli, who provisionally will start from pole tomorrow after he set the fastest lap of the race.
Ghirelli settled for second after a solid run in his #36 Not Only Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro. The Italian faced several issues in the first part of the season and was therefore quite happy to finish the race on the podium. “We lacked some performance but still it was a good race,” the 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion stated after the race. “It’s still a long weekend and tomorrow we will have another shot.” In contrast to Ercoli’s comment, Ghirelli stated that the inside line at the start was dry.
Championship contender Giorgio Maggi followed in third after a relatively uneventful race for the Swiss. The Race Art Technology driver not only closed the gap on Day with his fifth top-5 finish of the season, but he also topped the Junior Trophy category for drivers aged 25 and less for the sixth time this season. Nicolo Rocca ended up fourth after an intense race that delivered a fantastic fight between six drivers for all 18 laps.
The Valencia race winner kept at bay a strong Liam Hezemans, who went off in turn 1 on lap 11 but recovered in spectacular fashion to complete the top-5. The Dutchman also finished second in the Junior Trophy classification. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen followed in sixth ahead of Martin Doubek.
Alexander Graff finished eighth but the Swede had his hands full in the race when he was battling for position with Day, who became his new teammate just for this weekend. The Speedhouse driver defended all attacks from his closest title rival and also took advantage from Patrick Lemarie losing momentum in the first chicane in the closing stages of the race to gain a crucial result for his title hopes.
Lemarie ended up ninth after starting third, while Frederic Gabillon got past Day to complete the top-10. The championship leader from Israel crossed the finish line in eleventh to score important points on the hunt for what could be a record-breaking fourth EuroNASCAR PRO title. Romain Iannetta stormed from the back of the field – he got his qualifying lap cancelled – to finish in twelfth.
Fabrizio Armetta topped the Challenger Trophy standings for bronze and silver drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO in 13th right ahead of Henri Tuomaala, who lost the lead when he cut the first chicane. Pol van Pollaert ended up 16th and completed the Challenger Trophy podium, while Jonne Rautjarvi took third in the Junior Trophy. Local hero Anthony Kumpen had to start the race from the pit box due to issues on his #24 Chevrolet Camaro. The Belgian finished in 26th.
The EuroNASCAR PRO will be back in action on Sunday, but there is EuroNASCAR 2 Round 2 coming up on Saturday at 4:25 pm CET. All races will be broadcast on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and several TV services from all around the world.