The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series returns for the second round of the season, the NASCAR GP of Italy, at Autodromo di Franciacorta this weekend, with yesterday giving us a brief glimpse of what to expect for this week. In a very frantic practice session that saw a lot of position shuffle throughout practice and plenty of track limits violations, it was Loris Hezemans in the No. 50 Hendriks Mustang and Nicholas Risitano in the No. 8 Racers Camaro that would came out on top in Friday’s Practice sessions.
In the Elite 1 class, Hezemans led the overall Practice timing charts after the Dutchman set a fastest lap time of 1:13.138, just 0.018 seconds ahead of defending champion and 3-time race winner at Franciacorta Alon Day. Day ran a total of 41 laps in yesterday’s Practice sessions, which suggests that the Israeli is looking for long-run race pace in Practice. Marc Goossens, who had a rather disappointing week at Valencia, has seemingly returned on form for Franciacorta as the Belgian would finish the Practice sessions in P3 with a lap time of 1:13.198.
Frederic Gabillon, whose Final Practice was cut short after he had issues that brought out the Red Flag, would finish in P4 with a fastest lap time of 1:13.522. He, along with Nicolo Rocca in P6, were the only drivers inside the Top 10 combined results that failed to improve their Practice 1 time on Final Practice. Sandwiched between them is Stienes Longin in the No. 11 PK Carsport Camaro, as a lap time of 1:13.548 was enough for the 2016 Elite 2 champion to claim P5.
Jacques Villeneuve had a very impressive Practice session, as the Canadian would finish Practice in P7 with a best lap time of 1:13.606. Francesco Sini in the No. 12 Solaris Camaro was 8th with a best lap time of 1:13.645, while 3-time champion and current championship leader Ander Vilarino was only 9th fastest with a best lap time of 1:13.730. Alex Sedgwick in the No. 90 Braxx Camaro completes the top 10.
Lucas Lasserre, last year’s Race 2 winner, had a disappointing practice session, as his best Practice lap time of 1:14.424 was only enough for P16 in Final Practice. Also having a tough start of the weekend is Gianmarco Ercoli in the No. 9 Racers Mustang. The Italian’s best Practice lap time of 1:14.371 was only enough for P14 in Practice 1, and he couldn’t take part in the Final Practice due to mechanical issues.
As for the Elite 1 debutants, Luigi Ferrara in the No. 42 42 Racing Mustang had a pretty impressive debut so far as he was able to consistently run in the low 1:14’s throughout practice. As for Eric Filgueiras in the No. 70 Mishumotors SS, his lap times are only enough for P22 in both Practice sessions, but with Mishumotors struggling to find pace so far, it remains to be seen whether the American can find something for qualifying and race day.
In the Elite 2 class, it was Nicholas Risitano that would grab the leading honors after he set a monstrously fast lap time of 1:14.363 that would put him 0.22 seconds ahead of championship leader Giorgio Maggi. Florian Venturi, who had a very tough weekend at Valencia, was able to rebound in Franciacorta so far as he would claim P3 with a best lap time of 1:14.618.
Lasse Sorensen, who is making his NASCAR Euro debut this week in the No. 66 Dexwet DF1 Camaro, was fourth in a very impressive practice for the Denmark. His teammate Justin Kunz also had a good practice session, as the German’s best lap time of 1:15.008 was enough for sixth place. Sandwiched between the Dexwet DF1 cars is Myatt Snider, who claimed fifth with a best lap time of 1:14.871.
Max Lanza, who showed good pace at Valencia in his No. 41 The Club Camaro, was seventh with a best lap time of 1:15.024. Andre Castro, whose Final Practice came to a premature stop due to a mechanical issue, was eighth with a best lap time of 1:15.062. He finished just ahead of teammate Bert Longin, who finished ninth in the combined Practice results. Martin Doubek completes the Top 10 with a best lap time of 1:15.217.
Claudio Remigio Cappelli in the No. 42 42 Racing Mustang also had an impressive practice session in his NASCAR debut, as he finished P5 in Practice 1 and would finish twelfth in the combined Practice results. On the other hand, current championship runner-up Vittorio Ghirelli had a tough start to his week. Mechanical issues prevented him from taking part in Practice 1, with said issues continued to strike the No. 9 team as he was only able to set 2 lap times, the least number of laps completed out of everyone in Practice so far.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series would return in action today with Qualifying and the first race of the week for both Elite 1 and Elite 2. Qualifying will begin at 9:50 CEST, while the Elite 1 and Elite 2 races would begin at 13:15 CEST and 16:45 CEST. All qualifying and races will be streamed live on FansChoice.tv, Motorsport.tv, and the official NASCAR Whelen Euro Series YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Photos are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.