The 2023 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will culminate with the EuroNASCAR Finals at Circuit Zolder on October 14-15. Double points will be on the line in the championship’s last event. Four main contenders for the title emerged both in EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2, but with a maximum of 176 points up for grabs, the legendary Belgian track could produce a surprise on Sunday afternoon. In the Trophies, the battles are close and it’s impossible to predict a winner.
Gianmarco Ercoli, #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet (1st – 285 points)
Gianmarco Ercoli travels to Zolder as the EuroNASCAR PRO championship leader with 285 points on his tally. The CAAL Racing driver from Rome amassed three wins, four pole positions and eight top-5 finishes in the regular season. Especially in the first half of the season, the 2015 EuroNASCAR 2 champion looked dominant and as a result of that, Ercoli still holds the lead over his competitors heading into the 2023 EuroNASCAR Finals.
“My team and I are working really hard and we want to get the win after tough races in the Czech Republic and Germany. I managed to keep the lead in the points, but now it’s a tough battle with a lot of respect among the top contenders. I don’t have any friends in the finals and I will do my best to perform at the highest level. I will study all the conditions and be prepared for all possible scenarios. If it’s raining or if it’s going to be sunny, it won’t be a problem for us!”
Vittorio Ghirelli, #72 Team Bleekemolen Toyota (2nd – -4 points)
Vittorio Ghirelli was unlucky in the first half of the season, but since his home race in Italy, the Fasano native has gained a lot of momentum that has brought him two race wins, two pole positions and eight top-5 finishes so far. The Italian has found his feet with Team Bleekemolen and is ready to challenge his compatriot for the EuroNASCAR PRO title. The former GP2 driver and Auto GP champion has what it takes to become the first driver ever to win both the EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2 championships.
“We are heading into the EuroNASCAR Finals and championship battles with a lot of drivers still in contention. Everyone can win the title, so I expect a very tough, close and intense battle. We’ll see who has the better luck in the double points race, but you can be sure I’ll be out there trying to win the EuroNASCAR PRO title!”
Lucas Lasserre, #64 Speedhouse Ford (3rd – -21 points)
Lucas Lasserre never planned to race the full season – the Frenchman is focused on running the Speedhouse team as owner, driver coach and engineer – but a race win on Sunday in Valencia brought the NWES veteran from Pau into the mix. Lasserre has put together a strong program for his full-time return and has immediately become a title contender thanks to his strong consistency. One of the most experienced drivers on the grid, the Speedhouse owner still has a shot at the overall title.
“I am ready to fight for the title at Circuit Zolder. I’m a lion and I’ll never give up! My goal is to stay in the mix, push and not give my competitors a chance to breathe. I want to seize the opportunity after this strong season with Speedhouse. It’s great to be in this position heading into the EuroNASCAR Finals and I’m going to put all my energy on the table to take the title. I’m 100 percent ready.”
Anthony Kumpen, #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet (4th – -23 points)
The two-time NWES champion is fourth, 23 points off the leader: Anthony Kumpen. The PK Carsport team manager and top driver is back in NASCAR and has immediately become a contender for the title. The Belgian could become the third three-time EuroNASCAR PRO champion after Alon Day and Anders Vilarino. With his home race at Circuit Zolder coming up, Kumpen is looking to take over first and take home his first race win of the season.
“My NASCAR program was a little bit affected by this busy schedule. I had almost no time to test at the international tracks we visited with EuroNASCAR. But I knew the finale would take place at Circuit Zolder and we did some testing at my home track. The car felt great at the last test there and I’m sure we had the best setup for the #24 Chevrolet Camaro all season. We have a lot of confidence and the goal is to win both races and add another NWES championship ring to my collection. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Junior Trophy and Challenger Trophy
In the Junior Trophy for drivers under 25, Liam Hezemans leads the way after winning the season opener at Valencia. The Dutchman is just ten points ahead of Vladimiros Tziotzis, while Ulysse Delsaux is third and is waiting for his chance to overtake the two competitors in front of him at Circuit Zolder. In the Challenger Trophy, fans can expect a battle between teammates as Fabrizio Armetta leads his The Club Motorsport friend Riccardo Romagnoli.
Vladimiros Tzortzis – #5 Academy / Caffi EuroNASCAR FJ (1st – 292 points)
A total of five wins in the regular season initially made Vladimiros Tziortzis the dominant force in EuroNASCAR 2, but technical problems at Autodrom Most and Motorsport Arena Oschersleben changed the cards ahead of the finals. The Cypriot still leads the overall standings, but the driver from Nicosia has no margin for error. If Tziortzis returns to his usual form, it’s going to be tough to beat the Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport pilot in the battle for the overall win.
“I am fully prepared to take what we really deserve. The setback in the NASCAR GP Germany is already in the past!”
Alberto Naska – #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet (2nd – -3 points)
After finishing runner-up in his rookie season in 2022, Alberto Naska was supposed to be the driver to beat in the 2023 season, but now the Italian finds himself in a different position than expected. The CAAL Racing driver is just three points behind Tziortzis and still has a chance to win the championship on his own by finishing ahead of the points leader. A win on Saturday could already put him at least seven points ahead of Tziortzis, so finishing first is Naska’s number one goal.
“The battle is so close and the double points are so decisive. It’s that simple: whoever wins the races is the champion. Period. I’m pretty sure that Zolder will be the toughest battle of the year. I’m super excited, I can’t wait to race. The forecast is also calling for four days of rain. Can you imagine that? It will be an unforgettable weekend!”
Paul Jouffreau – #3 RDV Competition Chevrolet (3rd – -4 points)
Paul Jouffreau is one of the sensations of the 2023 season and the 19-year-old from Blayes is one of the top contenders in EuroNASCAR 2. It wasn’t enough for the Frenchman to win races in both championships, he also became the youngest EuroNASCAR PRO victor in history. In the EuroNASCAR 2 regular season, he scored two wins and a phenomenal ten top-5 finishes out of ten races. That consistency is why Jouffreau could be a good bet.
“I feel really good and I’m confident. The performance of the team is getting better and better after each race, so we are going to Zolder prepared like never before. I want to win both races, I want to become champion and I don’t want to be on the grid for the last race with a complex math problem with a lot of possibilities. The goals are set: I want to be the champion!”
Gil Linster – #50 Hendriks Motorsport Toyota (4th – -28 points)
“Mr. Consistency” Gil Linster may be the dark horse in the EuroNASCAR 2 championship, but the NWES veteran has plenty of experience in the series and at Circuit Zolder. This could be the key to success for the Luxembourger, who has been finishing in fourth place all season long. A curse and a blessing, consistency has kept the Hendriks Motorsport driver in title contention and a perfect race weekend at Circuit Zolder could put Linster at the top of the standings.
“I’m in the best position, although being fourth annoys me a bit. The three drivers in front of me have to go over the limit to win, so I can just hang on their back bumper and wait for them to make a mistake and take advantage of it. I’ll go full risk and that’s how it could work. I’m happy with my performance and in the past the leader of the standings has never won the championship at the finals. I will do my best and reward my team, family and friends who have made me a better race driver. It’s all in!”
Rookie Trophy, Legend Trophy and Lady Trophy
The battle for the Rookie Trophy is a showdown between Team Bleekemolen’s Thomas Dombrowski and Marko Stipp Motorsport’s Jack Davidson, separated by just ten points. In the Legend Trophy for drivers 40 and older, Claudio Capplli leads reigning champion Melvin de Groot, while Arianna Casoli dominates the Lady Trophy, setting the sails for a record-breaking fourth title in the special classification.
The 2023 EuroNASCAR Finals will be held October 14-15 at Circuit Zolder, Belgium. Qualifying and all races will be streamed live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and multiple TV services around the world.