New contenders have risen to challenge Gianmarco Ercoli in EuroNASCAR PRO

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Nina Weinbrenner

The 2023 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season reached its halfway point at the conclusion of the NASCAR GP Italy. The top drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO delivered with another set of action packed races at Vallelunga after they provided fans with fantastic action in Spain and the United Kingdom. Four different drivers scored a win in six races and Gianmarco Ercoli will lead the championship standings entering the second half of the season after scoring a spectacular victory in front of his home crowd. Lucas Lasserre is the closest driver to the Italian so far, but a new name has come back into play after scoring a big win in Italy: Vittorio Ghirelli.

After facing adversity in the past season, the Italian found the key to success in the 2023 season to put himself back in contention. The 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 champion made the move to Team Bleekemolen during the winter and was on the pace right from the start, but luck wasn’t on his side in the first two events. After losing crucial points due to a collision with Vladimiros Tziortzis in Spain and a power steering issue in the UK, the 29-year old Fasano-native bounced back in Italy with a dominating victory in Round 6. The win moved Ghirelli up to fourth place in the standings and he’ll be hoping to keep this momentum when the season continues at Autodrom Most on August 26-27.

Ghirelli shared the spoils in Italy with Ercoli, whose run of form in the first half of the season has been impressive: except for Round 2 at Valencia in which he was taken out by a contact with Liam Hezemans, the Italian has always been on the podium. After sweeping the weekend at Brands Hatch to become the new “King” of the American SpeedFest, Ercoli took a third consecutive win in Round 5 and was less than a second behind his fellow countryman at the finish line in Round 6. The CAAL Racing driver extended his lead in the championship to twelve points, but Valencia race winner Lasserre is right on his back bumper. With a double top-5 and one podium finish in Italy, the Speedhouse driver and owner has managed to minimize his disadvantage in the title race.

Former two-time champion Anthony Kumpen holds third place, but lost some ground with two finishes outside the top-5 in Italy. Marc Goossens also had a tough time at the home race of his CAAL Racing team, meaning that the Belgian veteran is now level in points with Junior Trophy leader Ulysse Delsaux. Consistency at a very high level allowed Delsaux to lead the special classification for drivers aged 25 and under by five points from top debutant Vladimiros Tziortzis, who took pole position in his debut EuroNASCAR PRO race at Valencia and has already scored three Junior Trophy victories so far.

Martin Doubek is eighth ahead of Hendriks Motorsport teammate Liam Hezemans. The reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion won the season opening round at Valencia and scored two more podium finishes, also showing an impressive pace with two fastest race laps, but he still has to put all the pieces together in the Sunday races. In Italy, Hezemans finished second in Round 5 but was only 16th in Round 6 after an early mechanical problem forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop. With a 54 point deficit to Ercoli, there is going to be no room for errors or misfortunes for the Dutch driver.

A very consistent Thomas Krasonis, who is consistently running in the top-15 in his first season with Marko Stipp Motorsport, completes the top-10 ahead of Giorgio Maggi. The Swiss, who is looking to turn his season around starting from Most, is tied in points with Challenger Trophy leader Fabrizio Armetta. With four out of six wins in the 2023 season so far, Armetta proved to be the dominant force in the special classification for elite amateur drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO. With many of his rivals falling foul to the attrition in Italy, he now holds a 39-point lead from his The Club Motorsport teammate Riccardo Romagnoli and fellow countryman Max Lanza.

One driver to keep an eye on in the second half of the season is RDV Competition’s Paul Jouffreau. The Frenchman’s main focus is in the EuroNASCAR 2 division, but the young driver from Blaye received a surprise call-up to EuroNASCAR PRO after Frederic Gabillon had to end his season early. Despite the added challenge, Jouffreau handled the pressure perfectly and was rewarded with a podium finish on his debut race. He nearly grabbed a second podium in Round 6, but was penalized for an avoidable contact. Jouffreau’s late entry meant that he stands little to no chance of winning the title, but he will definitely play the ‘wildcard’ role that could change the balance in the championship battle.

The exciting battles from the top stars of EuroNASCAR PRO will resume on 26-27 August with the NASCAR GP Czech Republic at Autodrom Most. EuroNASCAR’s fourth visit to the Czech Republic promises to continue delivering the unpredictable action that has shaped up the season so far. All qualifyings and races will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, and several TV services from all around the world.


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