The EuroNASCAR Finals kicked off with the Free Practice sessions for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series competitors. The races at Circuit Zolder will award double points, so it is important for teams to get the maximum performance out of their machines and find the right setup for their drivers. When the dust settled after four 30-minute sessions, Anthony Kumpen came out as the leader in EuroNASCAR PRO ahead of his title rivals. The same story can also be said of Alberto Naska, who topped his primary challengers in EuroNASCAR 2.
EuroNASCAR PRO: Home crowd hero Kumpen quickest in both sessions
Prior to the Finals, Anthony Kumpen said that his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro felt great during his last test at Zolder. The results from Free Practice seems to have validated his statement as he managed to set the fastest lap time in both sessions. Kumpen set the initial benchmark in the first session with a time of 1:38.484, but with the track still slippery, he knew that there was going to be room for improvement. The Belgian did just that in the second session, improving his time by nearly one second to top the combined charts with a 1:37.550 lap.
Kumpen managed to beat championship leader Gianmarco Ercoli and Vittorio Ghirelli, whose results were just as close as their position in the standings. The two Italians were separated by only five hundredths of a second with the CAAL Racing driver coming out on top. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Giorgio Maggi want to end their season on a high note and they made a good step forward to achieve that goal by finishing fourth and fifth. Maggi also topped the Junior Trophy for drivers aged 25 and under.
A racing legend at Circuit Zolder followed them in sixth place: Marc Goossens. The 53-year old Belgian used all his knowledge to set a fast lap time at the 4.010 kilometer long circuit. Next were Tobias Dauenhauer and Liam Hezemans, who completed the top-3 positions in Junior Trophy. Paul Jouffreau was ninth ahead of Martin Doubek, who rounded out the top-10 despite not taking part in the first session due to issues with his Ford Mustang.
Ryan Vargas finished his first day in Belgium with an eleventh place result, but the American had an argument with Dario Caso after they made contact during the second Practice session. Thomas Toffel was the fastest of the Challenger Trophy drivers in twelfth, beating established championship contender Lucas Lasserre and top Junior Trophy contender Vladimiros Tziortzis in the process. Fabrizio Armetta and Caso completed the special classification’s top-3 in 16th and 19th respectively.
EuroNASCAR 2: Naska beats Jouffreau with a blistering time
Alberto Naska’s calculation for the Finals is simple: Whoever wins the races at Zolder will become the champion. His experience from last year allowed the Italian to learn about how important it is to be on top of the standings with double points on the line, therefore he wants to finish first in Belgium. Practice showed his rapid pace behind the wheel of CAAL Racing’s #54 Chevrolet Camaro and with a time of 1:38.026 that was set in the second timed session, the YouTube superstar finished the day ahead of fellow title chaser and first practice session leader Paul Jouffreau.
2021 EuroNASCAR 2 champion Martin Doubek will not go down without a fight. The Czech made a statement with a third place finish in the combined times. Fabrizio Armetta is pulling double duty in Zolder and used the extra track time during Free Practice. The owner-driver of The Club Motorsport had an impressive outing and ended his day in fourth place, enabling the Italian to claim the top spot in the Legend Trophy classification.
Gil Linster rounded out the top-5 positions, but did not take part in the second session. The Luxembourger was ahead of Race Art Technology drivers Claudio Cappelli and Thomas Toffel, the former finished second in Legend Trophy while the latter topped the Rookie Trophy. Oschersleben race winner Patrick Schober, Rookie Trophy contender Jack Davidson and Vladimiros Tziortzis completed the top-10. The Cypriot encountered some issues on used tires and couldn’t show his maximum pace during Free Practice.
Melvin de Groot will have a lot of work to do after finishing eleventh, but the reigning Legend Trophy winner still came home third in the special classification. Teammate and Rookie Trophy leader Thomas Dombrowski also struggled and could only set the 13th best lap time, but he too finished third in his special classification. Returning veteran Eric de Doncker finished 18th on his first competitive outing in the series after four years. Arianna Casoli topped the Lady Trophy rankings in 24th place.
The pressure will reach a boiling point on Saturday when the EuroNASCAR Finals will feature the qualifying session and the first races of the double-points weekend. Be sure to tune in to the Qualifying and races when it gets broadcasted live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv, and on many TV services around the world to see which driver is going to make the right step forward for their championship bids.