Yesterday’s Elite 2 race proved to be one of the most historic and dramatic races in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series history as Lasse Sørensen somehow was able to claim the victory despite having to start from last on the grid after a broken prop shaft prevented him from even taking part in Qualifying. It was Sørensen’s second victory of the season, thus making him the first repeat winner in Elite 2 this season.
Starting from last, he immediately began his charge to the front of the pack, and by the time the Safety Car was called on lap 11, the Dane was already in the top 10. Taking advantage of his astonishing pace and incidents such as Myatt Snider spinning out at Druids and the likes of Giorgio Maggi and Andre Castro having a Drive-Through penalty after the restart, Sørensen would continue his charge to the front of the pack, eventually claiming second with three laps to go after Scott Jeffs and Vittorio Ghirelli had a tangle together at Paddock Hill.
Then, coming to the last lap, the gearbox of race leader Florian Venturi’s No. 32 Camaro started to seize up, allowing Sørensen to pass Venturi in the main straight on the final lap to secure one of the most unlikely victories in all of NASCAR history. Sørensen’s victory from last meant that he’s also the first Euro Series driver to score the maximum amount of points available as he also bagged home the 4 bonus Championship points available for the driver that gained the most positions in a race.
“It was amazing, I didn’t expect it when I was on the grid,” said Sørensen to series lead commentator Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “When I was in the car, I was like “Yeah, Top 10, and I will be happy.” Suddenly, when the Safety Car came out, I was tenth, and I was like “OK, now we really got to go for it.” Then we have some knock on the outside, I think the car’s in front had some spin. There was a crash in front, I think when you come from 27th, you need that luck. I’m so glad and happy for the team Dexwet-DF1 Racing and also my fantastic sponsor Flexlease.nu.”
Finishing second in the end is Advait Deodhar. The defending Elite Club champion again showed impressive speed in his car for yesterday’s race, and Deodhar ultimately finished third on the road – which would become second after Scott Jeffs received his post-race time penalty – to become just the second Asian driver to score a podium finish in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series after Kenko Miura did it at Zolder Elite 2 Race 1 last year.
“I’m so happy, I couldn’t ask for more,” said Deodhar to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “Of course first would have been great, but I couldn’t asked for more. Ever since from the start it was an absolutely crazy race. I feel the spectators enjoyed it as well, and there was a lot of hairy moments. I think first corner, which is very very quick, I went off to the sand and I was just on the edge. I was like “I’m putting my foot planted” and I somehow made it through and there wasn’t very much damage to the front, but it was a very fun race as a driver.”
Luck once again failed Florian Venturi this time around. Having taken the lead from Andre Castro on lap 9, Venturi was able to stay in the lead for the rest of the race until his gearbox started to seize up with two laps to go. He can only sit and watch as Sørensen, Jeffs, and Deodhar overtook him on the last lap and while Venturi ultimately finished fourth on the road, he would classified in third after Scott Jeffs’ post-race time penalty were given.
“I broke the gearbox with two laps remaining,” said Venturi to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “I still finished the race fourth, so there’s its positive and negative points. Let’s see tomorrow for the Race 2. I can’t go to third and fourth (gear) in the last two laps, so I need a new gearbox (for Race 2).”
The race proved to be a dramatic thriller right from the start where Florian Venturi nearly stalled his car on the grid during the Warm Up lap. Then, after the Green Flag was waved, Freddy Nordström immediately ran into trouble when he ran wide at Paddock Hill, dropping him from 4th to 15th before he got spun around by Freddie Hemborg on Lap 2, causing substantial damage to the rear end of his No. 11 Camaro.
Nordström initially tried to stay on the track in the hopes to try get the Fastest Lap to secure Pole Position in Race 2, eventually he had to retire from the race after completing 21 laps as the crash damage proved to be too much for him to handle.
Shaun Hollamby, Ben Creanor, and Jerry de Weerdt were also involved in the Lap 2 incident at Graham Hill Bend. All three of them had to make a visit to the pits to repair the damage that was done to their cars soon after. Hollamby and Creanor eventually retired from the race due to the sustained crash damage after completing 18 and 19 laps respectively, while de Weerdt would make it to the finish, albeit 3 laps down from the leaders in 20th place.
After the Lap 2 incident, the race would calmed itself down for the next few laps before all hell broke loose when Giorgio Maggi accidentally clipped Andre Castro coming to Graham Hill Bend on Lap 9, sending the American for a spin with Nicholas Risitano also having a spin on his own in sympathy. The spin would allow Florian Venturi to sneak by to the lead of the race, with Maggi still in second and Scott Jeffs got promoted to third.
Then, the Safety Car was called on Lap 11 after Matthias Hauer ran wide at Clark Curve and was stuck in the gravel trap. Hauer was also involved in the Lap 2 incident, and having visited to the pits soon after, eventually the crash damage proved to be substantial and having lost drive on Lap 10 in his No. 64 Speedhouse SS, he ended up spinning the car to the gravel trap at Clark.
When the Green Flag period resumed on Lap 18, carnage ensued almost immediately after Castro hit the right-rear of Myatt Snider at Druids, causing Snider to go for a spin and dropped Snider all the way to the back of the field. Two laps later on Lap 20, the officials judged that Maggi was at fault for the Lap 9 incident and decided to give Maggi a Drive-Through penalty, a penalty that Maggi would serve on the following lap.
On Lap 23, Castro also got hit with a Drive-Through penalty for spinning Snider out at Druids, a penalty that Castro would serve on the following lap. Maggi and Castro would finish in 14th and 16th on the road, which was promoted to 12th and 14th respectively after post-race penalties were given.
Graham Hill Bend proved to be the main site of chaos for yesterday’s Elite 2 race as on Lap 24, there would be another incident the after Nicholas Risitano and Freddie Hemborg got tangled together and ran deep into the grass, causing significant front-left damage to Hemborg’s car. Both cars would finish 11th and 20th on the road, but post-race penalties – one for Risitano for colliding with Vartiainen at Druids and two for Hemborg for the incidents with Nordstrom and Risitano – would drop them down to 18th and 21st respectively.
Scott Jeffs’ post-race penalty completes the misery of the British drivers in yesterday’s race. For nearly the entirety of the race, Jeffs had a fantastic race, slowly climbing up his way to 3rd after staying clear of the incidents that are happening near him. However, on Lap 28, he tried to make a move on Vittorio Ghirelli on Paddock Hill, only for him to come in really hot and pushing Ghirelli really wide to the gravel as a result. While Jeffs would finish 2nd on the road, the 30-second time penalty he got for pushing Ghirelli wide meant that he would only be classified in 16th in the end.
As Sørensen takes the win from Deodhar and Venturi, Vittorio Ghirelli was able to cling on to 4th place to claim the Championship lead from Giorgio Maggi. Ghirelli had a great restart on Lap 18’s restart period that allowed him to jump ahead from Scott Jeffs despite being on the outside lane, and Ghirelli was able to climb up to 2nd before Jeffs pushed him to the gravel on Paddock Hill on Lap 28, thus compromising Ghirelli from any chance to get a podium finish at yesterday’s race.
NasKart champion Alessandro Brigatti had a stunning day yesterday. Brigatti had shown a lot of pace potential in the No. 19 Racers car, but mechanical issues had prevented him from getting a good result in the previous rounds. Today, he really showed what he can do as he just missed out on Superpole in Qualifying to claim a 13th place grid spot and having kept his No. 19 Camaro mostly clean during the race, Brigatti was able to claim a surprise Top 5 finish in just his fifth NASCAR Euro start.
Young Greek driver Thomas Krasonis also had a stunning day. Krasonis was able to make it to the Superpole by taking advantage of the ever-improving track condition, and as the incidents continue to pile up in the front, Krasonis was able to keep his car clean to grab his first Top 10 finish on the season, finishing 7th on the road before Scott Jeffs’ penalty meant that Krasonis was eventually classified in 6th place.
The 69-year old Michael Bleekemolen claimed 7th to become the highest finishing driver in the Legend Trophy ahead of Justin Kunz, who eventually finished 8th despite having to serve a Drive-Through penalty early in the race. Pierluigi Veronesi quietly sneaked his way to 9th place, while Snider was able to recover from his spin at Druids to complete the Top 10.
Jesse Vartiainen finished in 11th after his race got compromised by an incident with Nicholas Risitano that forced him to the gravel at the exit of Druids. Maggi claimed 12th after he served his Drive-Through penalty, followed by Eric De Doncker who quietly climbed his way to a 13th place finish, ahead of Castro and Ian Eric Wadén, who completes the Legend Trophy podium in 15th place.
Jeffs’ penalty dropped him down to 16th, ahead of Mirco Schultis who was classified ahead of Nicholas Risitano in 17th, while Arianna Casoli finished in 19th as the last driver to be in the lead lap. She had been lapped by the leaders on Lap 10, but the ensuing Safety Car period meant that she was able to get back to the lead lap of the race.
Jerry de Weerdt was classified in 20th ahead of Hemborg, whose two penalties meant that he would be classified as the last car still running in 21st place. Joining Hauer, Hollamby, Creanor, and Nordström in the retirement zone is Eric Clément, who retired from the race after completing 22 laps, with Naveh Talor being the only non-starter after the Solaris Motorsport crew was unable to change the engine in the No. 12 Camaro in time for the start of yesterday’s race.
Full Race Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||27||Lasse Sørensen (66)||30||29:44.615|
|2.||8||Advait Deodhar (31)||30||+ 2.519|
|3.||2||Florian Venturi (32)||30||+ 5.325|
|4.||6||Vittorio Ghirelli (9)||30||+ 6.289|
|5.||13||Alessandro Brigatti (19)||30||+ 6.561|
|6.||12||Thomas Krasonis (1)||30||+ 9.719|
|7.||19||Michael Bleekemolen (69)||30||+ 14.055|
|8.||10||Justin Kunz (99)||30||+ 14.174|
|9.||14||Pierluigi Veronesi (27)||30||+ 14.807|
|10.||9||Myatt Snider (48)||30||+ 18.317|
|11.||11||Jesse Vartiainen (2)||30||+ 19.066|
|12.||3||Giorgio Maggi (50)||30||+ 21.247|
|13.||21||Eric De Doncker (98)||30||+ 21.327|
|14.||1||Andre Castro (24)||30||+ 23.282|
|15.||24||Ian Eric Wadén (23)||30||+ 31.171|
|16.||7||Scott Jeffs (90)||30||+ 31.873 1|
|17.||20||Mirco Schultis (70)||30||+ 32.096|
|18.||5||Nicholas Risitano (8)||30||+ 47.525 2|
|19.||25||Arianna Casoli (54)||30||+ 52.380|
|20.||23||Jerry de Weerdt (78)||27||+ 3 Laps|
|21.||17||Freddie Hemborg (77)||27||+ 3 Laps 3|
|22.||18||Eric Clément (88)||22||DNF (Mechanical)|
|23.||4||Freddy Nordström (11)||21||DNF (Collision Damage)|
|24.||15||Ben Creanor (33)||19||DNF (Collision Damage)|
|25.||16||Shaun Hollamby (46)||18||DNF (Collision Damage)|
|26.||26||Matthias Hauer (64)||7||DNF (Spun Off) 4|
|27.||22||Naveh Talor (12)||0||DNS (Engine)|
1 Scott Jeffs initially finished 2nd, but he received a 30-second time penalty for forcing Vittorio Ghirelli out of the track on Lap 28
2 Nicholas Risitano initially finished 11th, but he received a 30-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Jesse Vartiainen on Lap 18
3 Freddie Hemborg initially finished 20th, but he received two 30-second time penalties for causing an avoidable collision with Freddy Nordstrom on Lap 2 and another avoidable collision with Nicholas Risitano on Lap 24
4 Matthias Hauer received a 30-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Jerry de Weerdt on Lap 2, although it didn’t affect his final result as he had retired anyway
In the Drivers Championship, Ghirelli now leads the Championship with 165 points on his name, 3 points ahead of Maggi who dropped down to second in the Championship thanks to his Drive-Through penalty. Deodhar’s podium meant that he is now in third in the Championship with 141 points, thus jumping him ahead of Veronesi who currently has 138 points in fourth, while Kunz completes the Top 5 as he currently sat in fifth with 135 points.
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ Elite 2 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.