For the second time this season and the third time in his Euro Series career, Loris Hezemans goes to the Victory Lane as he secures his first ever win in an oval track in front of his home crowd at Raceway Venray.
Having taken the lead from Stienes Longin late in the race, Hezemans was able to take the unfancied middle lane work as he storms through to claim his second consecutive victory in the season in a dramatic 100-lap race at Venray that was slowed down by 3 caution periods and a Red Flag for a crash involving Hezemans’ teammate Martin Doubek.
“I couldn’t ask for any better,” said Hezemans to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “I was a little bit annoyed missing out pole position by just a fraction (of a second), but it did mean that we’re going to give a good spectacle for the race fans, especially in Holland. Like you said, it’s my home race and we just did that. I think it was 100 laps of action-action-action, sometimes a little bit too much action. But, with the guys that I have fights with, the number 11 of Longin, especially Jacques, and even with the 24 (of Rocca), we have a great fight. I love the fans that we have, I can’t be any happier. I’m over the moon with this result.”
Finishing second in this race is Nicolò Rocca, who quietly made his way to third after Jacques Villeneuve made a mistake that dropped JV from the lead. Rocca was subsequently promoted to second after Stienes Longin – who finished second on the road – got hit with a 30-second time penalty for failing to serve a drive-through penalty in time during the race.
“Honestly, it has been a nice and clean race,” said Rocca to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “That’s what I was planning coming here. Since this morning I was focusing on taking step-by-step to get the rhythm. Qualifying was good and the race in the end turned out to be good. All the restarts were good, I always restart in fourth but never lost a position. Its good and whatever happened between Longin and Villeneuve help me obviously to gain a position and then in the end I was charging a bit on Stienes, but I got told that he had a drive-through so I relax and brought home a good second place.”
After leading the majority of the race, Jacques Villeneuve had to contend with a third-place finish in yesterday’s race at Venray after he got pinched out by Stienes Longin late in the race that dropped him from first to fourth. Despite this, Villeneuve still felt happy to bring home the podium after fighting with an ill-handling Go Fas Camaro throughout the race.
“The car was really hard to drive,” said Villeneuve to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “We have some issues after Qualifying that we have to fix and we didn’t have the time to fix it properly. The car works, (but) it was very loose and it always took three to four laps to get the speed going and in the end, when the 11 was second, I think he was a little bit too aggressive and had to back out. So I ended up in the grey, so the choice was hit him or the wall or back out, and so we lost the win like this but it doesn’t matter. It was a good fight with the 50 of Hezemans, that was really clean and it was a lot of fun.”
The race itself started without any incidents with Villeneuve making a clean start from the lead as he and Hezemans go side-by-side in the battle for the lead as Thomas Ferrando had a poor start and dropped four places to P14. As the four-car lead pack of Villeneuve, Hezemans, Stienes, and Rocca broke away from the field, the mid-pack brings a lot of action as there was a splendid scrap between Alon Day in 9th to Thomas Ferrando in 14th before the Safety Car was called for the first time after Ellen Lohr crashed out in the exit of Turn 4 on Lap 34.
After a lengthy caution period to recover Lohr’s car to the infield pit lane, the race got underway for a while before the Safety Car was called for the second time, as Romain Iannetta had a spin in the middle of turn 2. Iannetta was able to get going immediately after but the officials still called for the Safety Car in a situation where a Caution was perhaps unnecessary called.
Once the race got restarted for the second time, it didn’t take long before the Safety Car was called into action yet ago. Entering the start of Lap 66, Martin Doubek receives a tap in the right rear corner of his No. 7 Mustang and was turned into the outside wall in the front straight, ending the Czech driver’s race and in the end would force the Red Flag to come out to recover Doubek’s Mustang to the infield pit lane area.
In the final restart, it was Villeneuve and Longin who led the field as Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Gianmarco Ercoli made a great restart that saw them move to 6th and 7th respectively. However, they jumped out of line too early and ends up receiving a drive-through penalty that would effectively end their chances of winning the race.
In the meantime, as Longin and Villeneuve raced side-by-side for the lead, Longin’s Camaro went tight on Turn 2 and pushes Villeneuve very close to the wall, forcing Villeneuve to back off and giving Hezemans and Rocca an opportunity to pass the Canadian. Villeneuve would eventually lost further pace as the ill-handling of his Camaro started to take effect and he was caught by Ander Vilariño, although Vilariño ultimately wasn’t able to find a way to overtake Villeneuve in order to claim the final podium spot.
With 16 laps to go, Hezemans made the decisive move as he moves to the middle lane to try pass Longin for the lead and this time Hezemans was able to make the middle lane work to pull a clean pass that would give him the victory in front of his home crowd.
Rocca and Villeneuve completes the podium as Vilariño misses out on his first podium since the season opener at Valencia by 0.184 seconds. Frédéric Gabillon finishes fifth in a quietly impressive race for the RDV Competition team as Ulysse Delsaux was able to finish in seventh place from 15th on the grid and claim the 4 bonus Championship points for the most positions gained in the race.
Iannetta recovered from his spin to finish in sixth as Alon Day finishes a tough weekend for him and CAAL Racing with an eighth-place finish for the Israeli. Salvador Tineo Arroyo finishes in 9th as Henri Tuomaala completes the Top 10 to claim yet another win in the Challenger Trophy.
Dario Caso and Kenko Miura were the last cars still in the lead lap in 11th and 12th respectively as Stienes Longin’s post-race penalty would drop him 2nd to 13th at the end of the race. Bleekemolen and Ercoli’s drive-through penalty would drop them to 14th and 15th as Mauro Trione finished seven laps down from Hezemans in 16th after Trione was forced to visit the pits due to a puncture in his No. 31 SS.
Thomas Ferrando was classified in 17th after he retired from the race with 21 laps to go as Alexander Graff crosses the line 33 laps down in 18th after the No. 77 Memphis Camaro suffered mechanical issues all week long. Doubek’s crash left him in 19th as Ellen Lohr completes the field in 20th place.
Full Race Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||2||Loris Hezemans (50)||100||45:13.684|
|2.||4||Nicolò Rocca (24)||100||+ 2.030|
|3.||1||Jacques Villeneuve (32)||100||+ 4.775|
|4.||8||Ander Vilariño (48)||100||+ 4.959|
|5.||7||Frédéric Gabillon (3)||100||+ 9.001|
|6.||12||Romain Iannetta (88)||100||+ 11.880|
|7.||15||Ulysse Delsaux (36)||100||+ 12.214|
|8.||9||Alon Day (54)||100||+ 12.551|
|9.||11||Salvador Tineo Arroyo (46)||100||+ 12.893|
|10.||16||Henri Tuomaala (23)||100||+ 16.431|
|11.||19||Dario Caso (8)||100||+ 17.326|
|12.||18||Kenko Miura (2)||100||+ 18.238|
|13.||3||Stienes Longin (11)||100||+ 31.223 1|
|14.||6||Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69)||99||+ 1 Lap|
|15.||13||Gianmarco Ercoli (9)||99||+ 1 Lap|
|16.||17||Mauro Trione (31)||93||+ 7 Laps|
|17.||10||Thomas Ferrando (27)||79||DNF (Mechanical)|
|18.||14||Alexander Graff (77)||67||+ 33 Laps|
|19.||5||Martin Doubek (7)||66||DNF (Collision)|
|20.||20||Ellen Lohr (99)||32||DNF (Accident)|
1 Stienes Longin initially finished 2nd, but he received a 30-second time penalty for failing to serve a drive-through penalty for jumping out of the restart line too early in time before the race ends.
In the Championship, despite his penalty, Stienes Longin would left Venray as the winner of the Euro Series “regular season” as the best 8 out of 9 format in the races between Valencia and Venray meant that Stienes will have 272 points in his name, the same as with his points total at the end of Most as he will use the Venray race result as his “joker” race result in the Championship.
Hezemans climbs up to second with 265 points as he will trade his 19th place DNF result at Most Race 1 for his win at Venray, with Rocca only one point behind in third as Rocca will trade his 11th place finish at Most Race 2 with the second place finish at Venray.
Alon Day is in fourth with 257 points as he will trade his 22nd place DNF result at Most Race 2 with the eighth place finish at Venray as Ander Vilariño will trade the 26th place DNF result at Brands Hatch Race 1 with the fourth place finish at Venray to gain 21 points in the Championship.
Jacques Villeneuve will climb up to ninth place in the Championship as Villeneuve will trade his 25th place DNF result at Valencia Race 2 with the third place finish that he had yesterday.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will go to the summer break before returning back into action in 21-22 September for the first race week of the Euro Series Playoffs, the American Fan Fest Semi Finals at the famed Hockenheimring.
All races of this season will be aired live on FansChoice.tv, Motorsport.tv, and the official Facebook and YouTube channel of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.