The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series returns this week for the American SpeedFest, the third round of the 2019 season. The Friday of race week saw the Practice sessions being held for both the Elite 1 and Elite 2 division and in the Elite 1 class, it was the championship leader and two-time defending champion Alon Day that would set the early pace in Practice.
After only finishing fifth-fastest in the First Practice session with a lap time of 49.892, Day would climb to the top of the combined time sheets in the Final Practice session after he set a blisteringly fast lap time of 49.154. His closest championship rival Loris Hezemans finished second in both Practice sessions, setting a best lap time of 49.824 and 49.241 in FP1 and FP2 respectively.
After perhaps one of his worst NASCAR Euro weekends last time out at Franciacorta, Frédéric Gabillon returns to form after setting the third fastest lap time of the day with a best lap time of 49.389. Gabillon was the initial pace setter of the week after he set the fastest lap time of FP1 with a time of 49.692. With 76 starts on his name – one short of Wilfried Boucenna’s current record of 77 starts, Gabillon looks set to become the new record holder for the most starts in the Elite 1 class providing he started both races this week.
Finishing fourth in the combined time sheets is Swedish driver Alexander Graff, who made quite an impression in Friday’s Practice sessions. Graff started his day by setting the 10th-fastest lap time in FP1 with a lap time of 50.512 before improving to fourth with a best lap time of 49.472 in Final Practice, more than a second quicker than his FP1 time. If he can keep up this level of pace for Qualifying and Race, Graff could very well be on his way to score his first Top 5 finish of the season.
Completing the Top 5 is Nicolò Rocca with a best lap time of 49.534 that was set in Final Practice. Three-time champion and Valencia double race winner Ander Vilariño finished sixth with a best lap time of 49.647 that was also set in Final Practice, while Gianmarco Ercoli and Stienes Longin were tied in seventh and eighth respectively in the combined time sheets after both drivers set an identical fastest lap time of 49.672 in Final Practice.
Completing the Top 10 is Marc Goossens with a best lap time of 49.710 and Romain Iannetta with a best lap time of 49.711, with both times were set in Final Practice. Jacques Villeneuve barely misses on the Top 10 with the Canadian’s best lap time of 49.781 being 0.07 seconds slower than Iannetta, while Francesco Sini finishes the Practice sessions in P12 with a best lap time of 49.841.
Lucas Lasserre, who finished Practice in P13 in the combined time sheets, is one of the four drivers to not improve on their FP1 time and worryingly, his teammate Eric Filgueiras had suffered the same fate as Lasserre. After he set the third-fastest lap time in FP1 with a time of 49.872, he can only finish Final Practice in P18, with his best FP2 time of 50.214 being nearly 0.4 seconds slower than his FP1 time, leaving the Mishumotors team with some work to do for tomorrow’s races.
Ant Whorton-Eales leads the home drivers as his best lap time of 49.944 was enough to place him fourteenth in the combined time sheets. Behind Whorton-Eales is defending Elite 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux, who barely missed out on breaking the 50-second time barrier with a best lap time of 50.021 .
Alex Sedgwick had a tough start to his home NASCAR GP, only finishing P16 in the combined time sheets with a best lap time of 50.050, 0.047 seconds quicker than Thomas Ferrando in the No. 27 Alex Caffi Motorsport Mustang. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Salvador Tineo Arroyo completes Practice in P18 and P19 respectively, while Henri Tuomaala leads the Challenger Trophy drivers with a best lap time of 50.260 that would put the Finn in 20th-place in the combined time sheets.
Dario Caso finished in P21 just 0.022 seconds slower than Tuomaala, while Mauro Trione – who had a black roof in his No. 31 car for this week – finished the Practice sessions in 22nd place. Franciacorta Elite 2 race winner Lasse Sørensen can only finish the Practice sessions in 23rd place despite a strong First Practice where he would finish in P12 in his first Elite 1 Practice session.
As previously mentioned, Eric Filgueiras suffered the same fate as his teammate Lasserre, namely setting a fast FP1 time that he can’t improve upon in the Final Practice session. The American, whose best lap time of 50.792 is only enough for P24, finished just ahead of Kenko Miura, who did not run the Final Practice session after the gearbox on his No. 2 Alex Caffi Motorsport Camaro broke down to bits.
Eric De Doncker, Simone Laureti, Jennifer Jo Cobb, and Ellen Lohr – who caused a Red Flag in Final Practice after she ran wide and became stuck in the gravel trap at Druids – completes the combined Practice time sheets.
Two drivers – Max Lanza and Martin Doubek – withdrawn their entries for this round due to personal issues and driver injury respectively.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will hit the track for Round 5 and Round 6 of the 2019 season on 1 June and 2 June respectively. The green flag for this year’s edition of American SpeedFest will be waved at 1:28 PM local GMT on Saturday for Race 1, and at 1:23 PM local GMT on Sunday for Race 2.
All races for this season are going to be aired live on FansChoice.tv, Motorsport.tv, and the official Facebook page and YouTube channel of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Combined Practice Time Sheets
Times in BOLD are the best times set by the driver during the Practice sessions.
|RANK||DRIVER||FP1 TIME||FP2 TIME|
|1.||Alon Day (54)||49.892||49.154|
|2.||Loris Hezemans (50)||49.824||49.241|
|3.||Frédéric Gabillon (3)||49.692||49.389|
|4.||Alexander Graff (77)||50.512||49.472|
|5.||Nicolò Rocca (24)||49.884||49.534|
|6.||Ander Vilariño (48)||50.340||49.647|
|7.||Gianmarco Ercoli (9)||54.883||49.672|
|8.||Stienes Longin (11)||50.131||49.672|
|9.||Marc Goossens (78)||50.343||49.710|
|10.||Romain Iannetta (88)||50.572||49.711|
|11.||Jacques Villeneuve (32)||50.966||49.781|
|12.||Francesco Sini (12)||50.486||49.841|
|13.||Lucas Lasserre (33)||49.872||50.214|
|14.||Ant Whorton-Eales (46)||50.712||49.944|
|15.||Ulysse Delsaux (36)||50.904||50.021|
|16.||Alex Sedgwick (90)||51.295||50.050|
|17.||Thomas Ferrando (27)||51.256||50.097|
|18.||Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69)||51.499||50127|
|19.||Salvador Tineo Arroyo (64)||51.560||50.220|
|20.||Henri Tuomaala (23)||50.978||50.260|
|21.||Dario Caso (8)||50.975||50.282|
|22.||Mauro Trione (31)||51.075||50.508|
|23.||Lasse Sørensen (66)||50.664||50.545|
|24.||Eric Filgueiras (70)||50.792||50.826|
|25.||Kenko Miura (2)||51.261||No Time|
|26.||Eric De Doncker (98)||56.640||51.517|
|27.||Simone Laureti (19)||54.833||51.856|
|28.||Jennifer Jo Cobb (1)||56.126||53.833|
|29.||Ellen Lohr (99)||54.926||No Time|
Unless noted, photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.