The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series returns to action last week for the third round of the 2019 season, the seventh edition of the American SpeedFest at Brands Hatch. In the Elite 1 class, Alon Day won the first race of the week after he successfully chased down Race 1 pole sitter Stienes Longin, while Frederic Gabillon would grab the win in Race 2 in his record-breaking start after he pulled a masterclass in defensive driving to hold on from the charging Stienes Longin.
As we are waiting for Round 4 at Autodrom Most on 29-30 June, we’re collecting some of the words that the drivers say after the races at Brands Hatch to see how they react towards what has happened to them at Brands Hatch.
Frédéric Gabillon – No. 3 RDV Competition
After what has been a tough season for both Gabillon and RDV Competition so far, Gabillon was able to return to the top step of the podium on Sunday in his record-breaking 78th start in the series. Here’s what Gabillon had to say after his 12th career victory to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview:
“It was really difficult,” said Gabillon to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “Honestly, I’ve been lucky to make the fastest lap yesterday and we’ve been struggling since the first lap. My first lap was terrible, I have no grip at all and Loris was so fast and I couldn’t keep his gap. I’m happy because it’s been a long way this year. It’s been really difficult, we don’t find pace, we don’t understand how the new tire works, so we have a lot of work to do to find more pace during the race.
For sure Stienes was really, really fast. You know, I really don’t like to drive like this and close the door all the time, but when it’s for the win, you use all of your experience to stay in first position. I’m quite sorry for him (Stienes) because he was really fast during the race, but I’m not really far away from the Championship, so this week has been really good for the team. We will work to find some pace for Most.”
Stienes Longin – No. 11 PK Carsport
Stienes Longin was so close to visiting the Victory Lane again this week. After securing his first Pole Position in Elite 1 during Qualifying, Stienes was able to lead the majority of Race 1 only to lose out to Alon Day in the end. Here’s what Stienes had to say to Mark Werrell in the post-Race 1 interview:
“It was tough,” said Stienes to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “I was lucky in the beginning that behind me there was a fight, so I pulled away but Day and Nicolo (Rocca) was faster, so that’s why Day and Nicolo bossed me. I’m happy with second place, but I don’t lie, I want to win my first race here. You have to get everything right, we have the pace, so let’s try next race to win the race.”
Come Sunday, having started from the second row in the grid, Stienes would find himself in second place after the second Safety Car period. With a faster car, Stienes tried his best to overtake Gabillon for the lead, but ultimately Gabillon was able to hold on for the victory and Stienes had to contend with yet another 2nd place finish, his fourth this season. Here’s what Stienes had to say to Mark Werrell in the post-Race 2 interview:
“It was a challenging race,” said Longin to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “Fred was really competitive, he closed the door always and stayed on the ideal line, so it was really hard to pass him. I’m not the guy who (will) push someone off in trying to pass him, so second place is not bad, but now in the Championship, I have (finished) 4 times in second place and I need the P1 so bad.”
Alon Day – No. 54 CAAL Racing
Alon Day started his week well after he was able to hound and eventually passed Stienes Longin to secure his third victory of the season as well as his 20th victory in his career to extend his lead in the Drivers Championship. Here’s what Day had to say to Mark Werrell in the post-Race 1 interview:
“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.”
In the Sunday race, Day couldn’t find the pace that he had in Saturday and had to work hard to fend off the charging Alexander Graff to finish in 3rd to crown him as the “King of Brands Hatch” as the Elite 1 driver that scored the most points during the week. Here’s what Day had to say to Mark Werrell in the post-Race 2 interview:
“We came here and didn’t really know what to expect,” said Day in the post-Race 2 interview. “This week’s going well, we’ve extended the championship lead. That’s great for us, the team did a good job, and full focus on the next race. We’ve never been there and it’s going to be interesting. I have no idea, it’s going to be an unknown territory.”
Nicolò Rocca – No. 24 PK Carsport
Nicolò Rocca enjoyed a strong week at Brands Hatch as he was able to secure his first podium since his return to full-time competition during the Saturday race. While his chances to score a double podium finish this week was ultimately ruined when he spun out on his own at Graham Hill Bend on the Sunday race, he rebounded well to finish in 9th to claim third place in the Championship. Here’s what Rocca had to say to Mark Werrell in the post-Race 1 interview:
“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.
Obviously I wish Stienes won and I was P2 if I were a little bit more aggressive with Alon. When Alon overtook Stienes, I don’t want to risk too much. Obviously it would have been really tough to overtook two cars and I have been running out of laps, so I kept myself a little bit calm and bring the car home.”
Ander Vilariño – No. 48 Racing Engineering
Vilariño’s week at Brands Hatch proved to be his worst week on the track so far. After never missing out the podium in his previous 4 Brands Hatch race meets, his podium streak would end with a retirement on the Saturday race before the Spaniard clawed back to finish in 5th in the Sunday race. Here’s what Vilariño had to say after the Sunday race in Racing Engineering’s press release:
“Today we finished in the Top 5 after starting from eighth,” said Vilariño. “It’s not a bad result but I think that everybody in the team were expecting more. It has been a tough weekend and now we’ve got time for everyone in the team to put everything into getting back to the top positions in the next round in the Czech Republic.”
Romain Iannetta – No. 88 Racing Engineering
Romain Iannetta enjoyed his best race week of the season so far, as a double 6th place finish at Brands Hatch would saw him jump up to the Top 10 in the Drivers Championship. Here’s what Iannetta had to say after the Sunday race in Racing Engineering’s press release:
“Today we had a good race,” said Iannetta. “I had a good start and my restarts were also good and I managed to pass several cars. The car was quick during the first part of the race and I was able to go at the speed of the leading cars. We missed out a little bit today, but we are on the right path. I finished 6th, which was good after yesterday’s race. Now we will work on making it better for the next race.”
Gianmarco Ercoli – No. 9 Racers Motorsport
Gianmarco Ercoli enjoyed a strong Brands Hatch race week once more this year, finishing in the Top 10 in both races as well as securing his first Junior Trophy victory of the season in the Sunday race. Here’s what Ercoli had to say after Race 2 to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview:
“Thank you, (it’s a) fantastic race after a difficult weekend for me,” said Ercoli in the post-race interview. “I have a fantastic weekend in the Junior Trophy and I am ready for the future because now this category is very hard, the drivers are very fast. I am always in the Top 10, near the Top 5, I am happy.
I’m excited for the new track of the season and I think it’s possible I arrive in the podium in the Most track because I love the Most track.”
Francesco Sini – No. 12 Solaris Motorsport
After a very strong Qualifying for him and Solaris Motorsport, he would end Saturday on the lowest note possible after he was forced to not start Race 1 when the engine of his No. 12 Camaro blew during the Elite 2 Qualifying and the team was unable to change the engine in time for the race. Sini rebounded, however, during the Sunday race to finish in 11th despite starting from 29th and last. Here’s what Sini had to say to Mark Werrell in the post-Race 2 interview:
“It was a very good race,” said Sini in the post-race interview. “When the team told me it is the last lap, I said “No! Last lap!” I wanted another 10 laps because that (race) was fantastic, it’s very good for us because we understand what we’re looking with the car and I think we are able to fight for the podium for next weekend because the car now is good and consistent.
I was very happy with the race, lots of overtake, I think it’s good for the fans here and I love the fans that come to see the races and I hope they enjoy my race. I lost the 4 (bonus) points, but we also have Lasse Sørensen with the fantastic weekend, so it’s good for me.”
Alex Sedgwick – No. 90 Braxx Racing
Alex Sedgwick had a disappointing weekend at his home NASCAR Whelen Euro Series round. Sedgwick’s day started off on a rather low note after he struggled with a lack of grip in his No. 90 Braxx Camaro throughout Practice. Here’s what Sedgwick had to say about his Practice issues in a press release that was uploaded on his official website:
“The new General Tire and the suspension changes introduced this year meant everything we learnt last year, does not work anymore,” said Sedgwick in his official press release. “We had a really good set up last year when we ran the previous (BFGoodrich) control tire and when we used this as a reference, the car was undriveable. The new tires are so different and we are still learning every race how to make them work.”
His woes continued on Saturday after he missed the Superpole in Qualifying, but Sedgwick was able to run competitively in Saturday’s Race 1, battling his way to the Top 10 as well as setting the fifth Fastest Lap to earn himself a 5th place grid for Sunday’s Race 2. Here’s what Sedgwick had to say about his Race 1 performance:
“Battling through the field was great fun! The changes we made before the start of the race paid off and the car was transformed from qualifying and practice,” said Sedgwick. “I would have liked to have got further up the leaderboard but Brands Hatch is very difficult to overtake on, especially when drivers block and drive on the “white lines”. I tried a number of times to find different lines but some robust blocks by the other drivers damaged the bodywork on my car and I had to settle for 10th place.”
For the final race of the day on Sunday, Sedgwick made an excellent start and for most of the race, he was able to keep up with Alon Day and Alexander Graff in the battle for the final podium spot. However, late in the race, the tires decided to give up and with no grip in his car, Sedgwick plummeted down the order, eventually finishing in 20th to finish off his home NASCAR GP on a low note. Here’s what Sedgwick had to say about his Race 2 performance:
“The car felt good throughout the early laps and through the two restarts,” reflects Sedgwick. “The car felt good and I was starting to catch up with the third placed car when we went into Druids on Lap 24. Then on lap 27, as I entered Druids I found I had no grip at the front, the tires had gone and I was unable to steer the car. When I turned for a corner I was on a huge amount of lock and as soon as I applied the power the car tried to pitch me off the circuit.”
Mauro Trione – No. 31 CAAL Racing
After having a great first lap when he made a lot of positions after he avoided the incident that was happening on the first lap at Clark Curve, Mauro Trione’s bad luck with early race incidents continued on Brands Hatch after he got accidentally taken out by Jacques Villeneuve at Paddock Hill on the second lap of the Sunday race at Brands Hatch to cause his third retirement of the season. Here’s what Trione had to say about the Sunday race in a post made on his Facebook page:
“3 racing weekends, 3 times out,” said Trione in the post. “Valencia, Franciacorta, and now Brands Hatch. A hard contact with Jacques Villeneuve that pushed me in the gravel on Paddock Hill Bend, and the race was over right there. This is racing, it happens.
What a great start today. In one lap I believe I overtook 7 cars, including Jacques and all my competitors in the Challenger Trophy. I was on fire. The bad luck has to stop. I don’t deserve it. At least now I have someone in the Villeneuve family that likes me.”
Jennifer Jo Cobb – No. 1 Alex Caffi Motorsport
Jennifer Jo Cobb did not have the best return to the Euro Series with a double retirement in her Elite 1 class debut. After qualifying last, she eventually decided to park the car in the Race 1 on Lap 8 after she felt that she wasn’t able to achieve the minimum time that she wanted to set during the race. Here’s what Jo Cobb had to say after Race 1 in a post made on her Facebook page:
“So I had high hopes for improvement during the race,” said Jo Cobb in the post. “I spoke with fellow lady competitor, Ellen Lohr, who has so much experience and is so kind. I told her I would follow her line and learn. She told me to expect a wreck early but that did not happen.
I have lap times in my car (this could be a mistake, Jo Cobb points out) and I was so frustrated that I was not improving fast enough (I picked up to a 53.t but I wanted at least a 50-minimum 52 – yes, I am giving myself a minimum speed). As the leaders were approaching I thought it best to go to the garage box.
This is a true and honest assessment. I am humbled to tell you that I just need more experience but I can promise you that I will return to the grid tomorrow better prepared and determined to be faster.”
Jo Cobb enjoyed a better start initially on the Sunday race. Having avoided the first lap carnage, she was able to keep the pace with the rest of the pack until she crashed out exiting Clearways on Lap 14 to cause the second – and last – Safety Car for Race 2 in the Elite 1 class. Here’s what Jo Cobb had to say after Race 2 in a post made on her Facebook page:
“The start of the race was so fun,” remarked Jo Cobb. “I was able to keep pace, passed a couple of cars and survived a wreck or two. On about lap 12 I missed the line going into the final turn and it was super slick. I didn’t want to react too much and crash so I tried to keep it gathered up and as the car slid towards the rocks I thought “no big deal-I’ll graze some gravel and keep going.”
Apparently (that’s) kind of a big deal! Those rocks just grabbed me up and I was along for the ride. Apparently it looked bad but I really didn’t even think I made much contact with the wall. So once you’re in the rocks you’re done because those rocks are everywhere! – in every crack and crevice of your car. I dug some out of my shoes! If I were able to continue, the car would have been fine.”
Unless noted, photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.