Ercoli and Linster strike first in Free Practice at Valencia

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Nina Weinbrenner

After a winter of waiting in the slumbers, the Pure Racing V8 engines were fired back into action at Circuit Ricardo Tormo for the first official on-track sessions of the 2023 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season. The combined results from the two practice sessions saw Gianmarco Ercoli and Gil Linster take the top spot, putting them on the right path to potentially earn the victory in the 4.005 kilometer long circuit hosting the NASCAR GP Spain.

This year’s NASCAR GP Spain is a special one, as it is set to host the 10th anniversary of the Valencia NASCAR Fest alongside the 75th anniversary of NASCAR. The beautiful Circuit Ricardo Tormo has always delivered thrilling and exciting action ever since its introduction into the EuroNASCAR schedule and with the special anniversary being celebrated this weekend, the NASCAR GP Spain promises to open the 2023 season with a banger.

EuroNASCAR PRO: Gianmarco Ercoli returns in top shape  

After scoring three victories in the 2022 season, CAAL Racing’s Gianmarco Ercoli established himself as one of the strongest contenders for the EuroNASCAR PRO title in 2023. The Marino-native topped the combined timesheets of the first Free Practice sessions of the year with a blisteringly quick lap time of 1:42.269, set in the first 30-minute session. A gap of 0.222 seconds separated him and Team Bleekemolen’s new signing Vittorio Ghirelli, who led the second session in the #72 Chevrolet Camaro.

Race Art Technology driver Giorgio Maggi clocked the third fastest lap of the day, a result that made him the fastest driver of the Junior Trophy contenders. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen finished fourth, making it a really good day in the office for Team Bleekemolen. Reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion and Junior Trophy contender Liam Hezemans completes the top-5 in his first Free Practice outing as a full-time competitor in EuroNASCAR’s top division.

Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport’s driver Vladimiros Tziortzis finished sixth to round out the top-3 in the Junior Trophy. A rookie in EuroNASCAR PRO, the Cypriot driver ended up ahead of three veteran competitors in Frederic Gabillon, Marc Goossens, and Anthony Kumpen, the latter making his first race in Valencia since 2018. Fabrizio Armetta completed the top-10 to put himself as the top driver in Challenger Trophy. Kenko Miura and Riccardo Romagnoli closed out the top-3 in the special classification for bronze and silver drivers.

EuroNASCAR 2: Gil Linster gets the first strike

Gil Linster made the move to reigning Team’s Champion Hendriks Motorsport in the off-season with the aim of establishing himself as one of the elite drivers in EuroNASCAR 2. The move has provided Linster with an immediate impact after the Luxembourger topped the combined Practice times in EuroNASCAR 2, setting a time of 1:42.276 in the #50 Toyota Camry.

Linster finished ahead of last year’s race winners Vladimiros Tziortzis and Alberto Naska, who closed the day in second and third respectively. Naska used fresh Hoosier tires in the first Practice session to dominate the field by 0.841 seconds, but Linster and Tziortzis were able to beat his times in the second Practice session.

Topping the Legend Trophy results was Claudio Cappelli, who secured an impressive fourth place finish onboard the #18 Race Art Technology Ford Mustang. Paul Jouffreau completed the top-5 in his first outing with his new team RDV Competition. Finishing right behind the Frenchman was Japanese driver Kenko Miura, who clocked the second fastest time in the first Practice session on his way to sixth overall.

Fabrizio Armetta, Martin Doubek, Riccardo Romagnoli and Patrick Schober completed the top-10 with the latter completing a comeback after engine issues sidelined the Austrian in the first session. Marko Stipp Motorsport’s Jack Davidson was the fastest in the Rookie Trophy, beating Thomas Toffel and Thomas Dombrowski for the top spot in the classification for debutants in EuroNASCAR’s second division.

The 2023 NASCAR GP Spain at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, will continue on Saturday with the first Qualifying session of the year. All qualifying sessions and races from the 2023 season will be broadcasted live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel,, and on many TV services around the world.



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