Alon Day and Florian Venturi with the Pole Award plaques.

After a cracking practice session that saw Loris Hezemans and Nicholas Risitano leading the charge for the Elite 1 and Elite 2 class heading to qualifying, yesterday it was 2-time defending Elite 1 champion Alon Day and last year’s Elite 2 runner-up Florian Venturi that would claim Pole Position for yesterday’s Race 1 during the Qualifying session.

The No. 54 CAAL SS on pit-lane on Saturday

In the Elite 1 class, Alon Day once again showed why he’s so strong at Franciacorta as he claimed pole position with a lap time of 1:12.937 in the Superpole session. It was the Israeli’s 13th Qualifying Pole Position and 22nd Pole Position overall. Marc Goossens, who is back in form after a relatively disappointing performance at Valencia, claimed second with a best lap time of 1:13.051.

Jacques Villeneuve, who finished P7 in the combined Practice timesheets, claimed a surprise third place on the grid. The Canadian, in just his second NASCAR Euro race week, would start his 3rd NASCAR Euro race in third after he set a lap time of 1:13.060 in Superpole, just 0.005 seconds ahead of Nicolò Rocca in fourth. Loris Hezemans was fifth with a lap time of 1:13.142, ahead of Alex Sedgwick in the No. 90 Braxx Camaro. Gianmarco Ercoli, Stienes Longin, debutant Luigi Ferrara, and Francesco Sini completes the Top 10.

Championship leader Ander Vilarino had a surprisingly weak Qualifying performance, only managing P12 after having his first Superpole lap deleted due to track limits. Other drivers who had a weak Qualifying includes three-time runner up Frédéric Gabillon who will start P16 for Race 1, and last year’s Race 2 winner Lucas Lasserre, who had to start from P20 after struggling with his No. 33 Camaro all week long.

“I’m happy to be on pole position here at my team’s home track,” said Alon Day to the media. “As we test here a lot, I’m now half Italian even if I’m Israeli. We know that we are very fast here and I hope to grab the win and the first place on the grid this afternoon.”

“I expect a special race. Marc Goossens is right next to me and I know how he races, but having Jacques (Villeneuve) behind me is something new. I really don’t know how he will race. It will be exciting,” adds the Israeli on his post-qualifying interview.

The No. 32 Go Fas Camaro takes the track on Friday's Practice Sessions

Meanwhile in the Elite 2 class, it was Florian Venturi that will claim his first Qualifying Pole Position in his career. The Frenchman, who already had scored a Pole Position at Brands Hatch Race 2 last year after he set the Fastest Lap in Race 1, claimed pole position with a lap time of 1:13.375. He will be accompanied in the front row by the ever-impressive Lasse Sørensen. The Dane, who has been fast all week long, will start second after he set a lap time of 1:13.795 in Superpole.

Andre Castro claims third with a lap time of 1:13.884 in Superpole, just 0.009 seconds ahead of championship leader Giorgio Maggi. Myatt Snider in the No. 48 Racing Engineering Mustang would start from fifth, ahead of Bret Longin in the No. 11 PK Carsport Camaro. Justin Kunz, Martin Doubek, Freddie Hemborg, and Scott Jeffs completes the top 10.

Practice’s pace-setter Nicholas Risitano can only set a lap time fast enough for P11, while Vittorio Ghirelli was unable to take part in Superpole after his No. 9 Racers Mustang suffered a mechanical failure at the end of Qualifying.

“It’s a great result, not only for me but also for the team,” said Venturi in the post-qualifying interview. “They did a really good job preparing me a great car. It’s my first ever NASCAR Whelen Euro Series pole position and I want to win this race. I’m really happy, but I have to focus on the race right now.”

The first qualifying session of Elite 2 had to be red-flagged twice due to two separate incidents. The first one happened when Michael Bleekemolen ran very wide in turn 1 and beached his No. 69 Mustang in the gravel trap. After his car was towed out of the gravel, he was able to return his car back to the pit-lane, although he ultimately wouldn’t set any lap time in Qualifying because of his off-track excursions. The second red flag was flown in the final 5 minutes of Qualifying after both Alessandro Brigatti and Vittorio Ghirelli suffered a mechanical issue that were independent from each other and had to stop their cars on the track, necessitating the marshals to tow their cars back to pit-lane.

Photos are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard and Fabio & Riccardo Grandi.

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