Jacques Villeneuve is a NASCAR race winner! 

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Jacques Villeneuve is officially a NASCAR race winner! The Canadian overcame a 5-second penalty to grab his maiden NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race win at Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy. The former Formula One World Champion crossed the finish line 6.3 second ahead of Vittorio Ghirelli and parked his #5 Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport EuroNASCAR FJ in Victory Lane. It was also the first EuroNASCAR PRO win for the Italian/Monegasque joint venture. 

It was a race for the NWES history books: Villeneuve took over the lead in turn 1 but was handed a 5-second penalty for jumping the start. The Canadian was put under constant pressure by Alon Day in second but fended off all attacks brought by the reigning EuroNASCAR PRO champion. While the events came thick and fast behind Villeneuve, the Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver took advantage of the hard battles behind him to open a 6-second gap on the rest of the field and score his maiden NASCAR Whelen Euro Series win. 

“Finally, it’s been a long time coming”, said Villeneuve after 18 exciting laps of pure NASCAR racing. “We have been fighting at the front a lot and the car was good in Qualifying. We had a hard time in Free Practice but in Qualifying the car was really amazing. I didn’t have to lift on the outside of turn 1. I just went for it and Alon lifted it.”

Ghirelli, who joined Not Only Motorsport for the EuroNASCAR Finals at Autodromo di Vallelunga, ended up second after a tremendous battle with CAAL Racing’s Gianmarco Ercoli. The Italian took a strong second place that put him in a good position in the championship battle on Sunday. Ghirelli is now only 5 points shy of championship leader Loris Hezemans. Ercoli tried a move on the very last lap of the race on Ghirelli but had to settle for thind and completed the podium, topping the Junior Trophy classification and moving within 9 points from Hezemans. 

For Hezemans and Day, the EuroNASCAR PRO Final 1 was a true disaster: On lap 7, first Ercoli took second from Day, who struggled at the wheel of his #88 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Just a few turns later, the Israeli was tapped by Hezemans and forced off track into a retirement. Hezemans was handed a drive through penalty and dropped down to tenth. This may have been a championship deciding situation for the Dutchman, who had a 21-point lead ahead of Saturday’s EuroNASCAR PRO race. 

DF1 Racing’s Nicolo Rocca finished in fourth after a strong run on his #22 Chevrolet Camaro, while Lucas Lasserre stormed from eleventh on the grid to fifth in the race’s classification. Giorgio Maggi followed in sixth resulting in a second place for the Swiss in the Junior Trophy ranks for drivers aged 25 and under. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen ended up seventh ahead of Patrick Lemarie and Romain Iannetta. 

Davide Dallara topped the Challenger Trophy classification for bronze and silver drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO by finishing eleventh. He beat DF1 Racing’s Henri Tuomaala in 13th and Yevgen Sokolovskiy in 14th. 

Ahead of the final race on Sunday, Hezemans leads the championship by only 5 points ahead of Ghirelli. Ercoli follows in third with a 9-point gap on the championship leader. As the winner takes 80 points and the second placed driver 70 points, the outcome of the closing race of the NWES 2021 will decide who will become the new EuroNASCAR PRO champion. The race will take place at 1:35 pm CET and be broadcasted on EuroNASCAR’s channels – YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, NWES App – and Motorsport.tv.



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