Following an exciting Club Challenge round, the action of the NASCAR GP Italy at Autodromo di Vallelunga continued with the free practice sessions for the competitors in EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2. CAAL Racing teammates Gianmarco Ercoli and Alberto Naska topped the combined timesheets after four 30-minute sessions for the drivers to familiarize themselves with the 4.095 kilometer long circuit near Italy’s capital of Rome. The tifosi are expected to be in full force for the races and the home crowd favorites have given them a reason to believe.
EuroNASCAR PRO: Gianmarco Ercoli leads, Paul Jouffreau shines on debut
Gianmarco Ercoli is eager to continue his winning streak after he became the King of Brands Hatch and took over the lead in the championship standings. He kept the momentum high on the opening day of the NASCAR GP Italy by topping the combined Practice times in EuroNASCAR PRO with a time of 1:41.334 despite a trip off track during the session. Ercoli was followed closely by Vittorio Ghirelli, who finished the day in second after he was fastest in the first Practice session. In the end, only 0.064 seconds separated the two Italian drivers.
RDV Competition’s Paul Jouffreau brought home an impressive third place finish on his debut EuroNASCAR PRO outing. Frederic Gabillon had “passed the torch” to the 19-year old driver before the weekend in Italy and the results from Free Practice proved that Jouffreau is more than ready to compete against the best in EuroNASCAR. He also topped the Junior Trophy ranks for drivers aged 25 and under.
After finishing on the podium at Brands Hatch, both Anthony Kumpen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen remained close together and finished fourth and fifth in the combined times. Tobias Dauenhauer and Giorgio Maggi were sixth and seventh overall, which was enough to close out the top-3 positions in the Junior Trophy.
2021 EuroNASCAR 2 champion Martin Doubek was eighth ahead of Liam Hezemans, who encountered trouble in the final Practice session. Hezemans only completed four laps and was unable to improve the time that he set in the first session. Ulysse Delsaux closes out the top-10 positions ahead of Marc Goossens and Lucas Lasserre. Riccardo Romagnoli was the best of the Challenger Trophy drivers in 13th place ahead of local hero Max Lanza and Thomas Toffel.
EuroNASCAR 2: Alberto Naska tops both sessions
Alberto Naska scored a memorable victory in front of his adoring fans on the 2022 edition of NASCAR GP Italy and is planning to repeat the feat this year. Achieving a victory in the most unpredictable division of EuroNASCAR isn’t going to be easy, but Naska made his intentions clear after he topped both EuroNASCAR 2 practice sessions at Vallelunga. With a best lap time of 1:41.350, Naska’s time was only 0.016 seconds off from what his teammate Ercoli achieved in EuroNASCAR PRO.
Vladimiros Tziortzis boasts a perfect record of four wins out of four races in the EuroNASCAR 2 division and plans to make it six at the home race of his team, Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport. The Cypriot has some homework to do for Qualifying after he finished second in practice with a time of 1:41.562. Paul Jouffreau repeated his feat from EuroNASCAR PRO with a third place finish in the combined times of EuroNASCAR 2, although he was 0.717 seconds slower than Naska’s best time.
Gil Linster was fourth onboard the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Toyota Camry ahead of Claudio Cappelli, who topped the Legend Trophy classification for drivers aged 40 and above with a fifth place finish. Martin Doubek was sixth overall, but he did not take part in the final Practice session. Melvin de Groot finished the day in seventh and took home second place in the Legend Trophy.
Jack Davidson continued his strong form with an eighth place finish in practice, the best out of the Rookie Trophy contenders. Patrick Schober was ninth, which proved to be a strong outing for the Austrian as Double V Racing had to prepare a new car in just three weeks following his severe accident at Brands Hatch. Riccardo Romagnoli closed out the top-3 in Legend Trophy with a tenth place result, while Cesare Balistreri and Thomas Dombrowski filled the top-3 positions in Rookie Trophy.
NASCAR GP Italy will be continued on Saturday as the field prepares themselves for Qualifying and their first races of the weekend. All qualifying sessions and races from Vallelunga will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv, and on many TV services around the world. The heat was already a factor on Friday and with the hot weather forecast on Saturday and Sunday, the NWES races will for sure be a physical test for all athletes on the grid.