Alon Day won a thrilling Elite 1 race at Brands Hatch yesterday after the Israeli chased down pole sitter Stienes Longin for most of the race, with Day eventually passed Longin for the win with 7 laps to go on his way to score his 20th career victory in the series. It is Day’s third victory of the season as well as his third race victory in Brands Hatch.
Starting third, Day stayed in third in the initial stages of the race before the Israeli pulled the pin on lap 11 to pass Loris Hezemans for second place. Afterwards, Day would begin to make his hunt on Longin, slowly erasing the 2-second advantage that Longin had made as the laps gone by. Then on lap 19, Longin ran wide at the exit of Druids, allowing Day to hook up to the tail of Longin’s No. 11 Camaro. The two would remain in place for the next 11 laps before Day made his move on lap 31, passing Longin at Paddock Hill to grab the lead in the only lead change of the day for the Elite 1 class.
“Amazing! The twentieth, just two more to the all-time record,” said Day to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “It was very crazy. It’s very hard as I didn’t expect it to be out here and fight for the win. I know we have a quick car, but after Qualifying, I thought Stienes was quick. It was tough, as usual for Brands Hatch, so hard to overtake here, I have to be so patient, and everything works, but I’m very nervous, it was crazy.”
Despite eventually losing out to Alon Day in the end, Stienes Longin should be feeling very proud of himself considering he had led 30 laps – the most laps led in the Elite 1 race yesterday – and was able to keep Day at bay for around 10 laps, which is not an easy task for Longin to do so considering how dominant Day has been in the Euro Series for the last two years.
“It was tough,” said Stienes to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “But, I was lucky in the beginning that behind me there was a fight, so I pulled away but Day and Nicolò (Rocca) was faster, so that’s why Day and Nicolò bossed me. I’m happy with second place, but I don’t lie, I want to win my first race here.”
Nicolò Rocca’s podium finish meant that he has scored his first podium finish in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series since 2016, as well as his first podium after his return to full-time competition to this year. Like Day, he had to get past Loris Hezemans first before he was able to catch up to the lead group, but unlike Day, ultimately Rocca didn’t have the extra edge in the pace that he needed to get past both Day and Longin.
“It was a really fun race,” said Rocca to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “I started P4 and I started to feel good (with the car) in the race. We had the speed, in the beginning I was a little bit stuck behind Alon. I tried to do a good lap for tomorrow’s race, and in the meanwhile I started to struggled a bit, so I had to overtook him (Loris) as well, but I lost a lot of time, so I have to fight back to catch Alon and Stienes. I was able to do so, so we were really quick actually. But unfortunately, in the last couple of laps, my tires overheated and I didn’t really have the speed to try an overtake. But overall, I think we should have a good speed tomorrow and I’m happy for the first podium of the year.”
Marc Goossens just missed out from the podium in fourth, and he was lucky that he escaped a penalty after he and Hezemans collided together on Lap 35 at Paddock Hill, which causes Hezemans to have a spin as a result. The stewards ultimately determined that the collision is a racing incident and did not give a penalty to either Goossens or Hezemans as a result.
“We had this incident in the final laps with Loris, who went a little bit too deep,” said Goossens in NASCAR Euro’s recap article. “He tried to come back on the track and slowed down significantly. I was not able to avoid him, but that’s racing.”
“I gave Marc as much space as possible,” said Hezemans. “Somehow I still got hit and spun. That caught me by surprise. I made a nice 360, which was not ideal. It is what it is.”
Lucas Lasserre scored his second Top 5 finish of 2019 with a 5th place finish in Race 1, ahead of Romain Iannetta who made a great start, jumping from 10th on the grid to 5th before eventually finishing in sixth place. Gianmarco Ercoli finished a solid seventh ahead of Ant Whorton-Eales, the first of the British drivers in Elite 1.
After withdrawing from the Franciacorta round due to a personal-related issue, Whorton-Eales came back in full force today. He’s certainly familiar with the Brands Hatch track given that last year he won all 5 Mini Challenge UK races that were held in Brands Hatch, and he used his experience here to good use to score his first career Top 10 result in Euro Series. It was also the first Top 10 result for Whorton-Eales’ team, the recently-renamed Marko Stipp Motorsport.
Loris Hezemans would eventually finished the race in 9th place ahead of Alex Sedgwick, who completed the Top 10 after a race-long battle with Frédéric Gabillon. For Gabillon, while he would ultimately missed out on a Top 10 finish in Race 1, he would come out with the Fastest Lap award in his hands with a fastest lap of 49.807 on Lap 6. Given that yesterday’s race was his 77th start – which puts him on level with Wilfried Boucenna’s record of 77 starts – this would mean that the Gabillon will start his record-breaking NASCAR Euro race on Pole Position.
Alexander Graff and Ulysse Delsaux did a good job in yesterday’s race as they were able to make up 4 and 5 positions respectively to finish in 12th and 13th place. Thomas Ferrando brought home the 4 bonus Championship points for the most positions gained during a race. Ferrando climbed from 20th on the grid to finish 14th, and this would be the second time he brought home the bonus point honors after he did the same at Valencia Race 2 earlier this season.
Jacques Villeneuve had an interesting race yesterday. Starting from thirteenth on the grid, he ran wide to the gravel trap on Lap 5, which dropped the Canadian from 14th to 19th place. He would spend the rest of the race doing a recovery job, overtaking Eric Filgueiras, Dario Caso, Henri Tuomaala, and Salvador Tineo Arroyo to eventually finish in 15th, just in time before his No. 32 Camaro broke down after the finish, leaving Jacques to stop his car on the cooldown lap at Druids.
Salvador Tineo Arroyo would finish in 16th, ahead of Henri Tuomaala who once again leads the Challenger Trophy drivers in 17th place. Behind Tuomaala is Dario Caso and Kenko Miura, who completes the Challenger Trophy podium in 18th and 19th place respectively. Eric Filgueiras completes the Top 20.
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen’s poor weekend continues as he can only finish in 21st position, the second-to-last driver still on the lead lap. Ellen Lohr completes the drivers still on the lead lap in 22nd position. Mauro Trione, who had an off-track excursion moment on Lap 22, finished 23rd and was lapped by Alon Day right on Clark Curve in the last lap, with Simone Laureti finishing in 24th, one lap down as the last driver finishing in the race.
Eric De Doncker was the first of the retirements after he stopped his car right by the exit of the pit lane on Lap 15. Ander Vilariño’s weekend went from bad to worse after a mechanical issue prevents him from taking the green flag, which also meant that his chances of continuing his podium streak in Brands Hatch is pretty much gone. He would come out to the track on Lap 4, but after multiple visits to the pit lane, Vilariño eventually called it a day on Lap 16 after completing 10 laps in the race.
Jennifer Jo Cobb parked her car in the pits on Lap 8 after she struggled with extracting the speed in her No. 1 Mustang all-weekend long, with Jo Cobb noting on a post in her Facebook page that her car is struggling to meet the pace target that she wanted to achieve. Lasse Sørensen’s broken prop shaft meant that despite his car was able to take the green flag, he would park his car after just 1 lap to make sure the prop shaft is fixed properly, a gamble that would work wonders for him in Elite 2 Race 1.
Francesco Sini was the only non-starter after the engine on his No. 12 Solaris Camaro blew up in a spectacular fashion in the Elite 2 Qualifying. With the team unable to replace the engine in time, Sini had no choice but to not start the race.
Full Race Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||3||Alon Day (54)||38||32:02.767|
|2.||1||Stienes Longin (11)||38||+ 0.950|
|3.||4||Nicolò Rocca (24)||38||+ 1.383|
|4.||7||Marc Goossens (78)||38||+ 9.507|
|5.||8||Lucas Lasserre (33)||38||+ 12.080|
|6.||10||Romain Iannetta (88)||38||+ 13.147|
|7.||6||Gianmarco Ercoli (9)||38||+ 14.055|
|8.||9||Ant Whorton-Eales (46)||38||+ 15.438|
|9.||2||Loris Hezemans (50)||38||+ 15.999|
|10.||14||Alex Sedgwick (90)||38||+ 16.219|
|11.||11||Frédéric Gabillon (3)||38||+ 16.826|
|12.||16||Alexander Graff (77)||38||+ 17.554|
|13.||18||Ulysse Delsaux (36)||38||+ 17.863|
|14.||20||Thomas Ferrando (27)||38||+ 19.253|
|15.||13||Jacques Villeneuve (32)||38||+ 20.214|
|16.||15||Salvador Tineo Arroyo (64)||38||+ 22.944|
|17.||17||Henri Tuomaala (23)||38||+ 23.352|
|18.||22||Dario Caso (8)||38||+ 24.279|
|19.||23||Kenko Miura (2)||38||+ 31.392|
|20.||24||Eric Filgueiras (70)||38||+ 34.599|
|21.||21||Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69)||38||+ 35.061|
|22.||27||Ellen Lohr (99)||38||+ 49.252|
|23.||25||Mauro Trione (31)||37||+ 1 Lap|
|24.||28||Simone Laureti (19)||37||+ 1 Lap|
|25.||26||Eric De Doncker (98)||15||DNF (Mechanical)|
|26.||19||Ander Vilariño (48)||10||DNF (Mechanical)|
|27.||29||Jennifer Jo Cobb (1)||8||DNF (Mechanical)|
|28.||12||Lasse Sørensen (66)||1||DNF (Mechanical)|
|29.||5||Francesco Sini (12)||0||DNS (Engine)|
In the Drivers Championship, Day continues to extend his lead as he is now leading by 20 points from Stienes Longin in second. Rocca’s podium finish meant that he has now climbed to third with 161 points, just 1 ahead of Loris Hezemans, while Vilariño is now only just clinging on to fifth in Championship via tiebreaker. Both he and Goossens are now tied with 134 points, but Vilariño’s two wins compared to Goossens’ highest finish of second in Franciacorta Race 1 meant that Vilariño leads Goossens on the tiebreaker.
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ Elite 1 class would return to action today for Race 2 of American SpeedFest in Brands Hatch. Just like all the other races, the races will be streamed live in FansChoice.tv, Motorsport.tv, and the official Facebook page and YouTube channel of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, with full race replay available to be viewed at NWES’ YouTube channel.
Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.