Lasse Sørensen will bring the Elite 2 championship race to the wire on Sunday as he scores his sixth victory of the season from sixth place on the grid in the Saturday Elite 2 race at Circuit Zolder.
Having gained three positions at the start of the race, Sørensen was able to use the restarts to his advantage as he passed Vittorio Ghirelli on the first restart and later Giorgio Maggi on the final restart on his way to the victory lane. Maggi was able to hold on to second place as Martin Doubek overtook Advait Deodhar on the last lap to steal the final podium spot.
“I’m still not sure if I get one for the most overtakes,” said Sørensen to Mark Werrell in the post-race interview. “If I do, I’m leading the championship but it’s one hall of a race. Its always hard when you have to pass so many guys to get up there, but I believed in myself and I know that I can do that and so does the team, so thanks to all of the guys at Dexwet-DF1 Racing. The car was fantastic today, so that made it a lot easier.”
“It will be really close and really interesting because the (Sunday’s predicted) bad conditions are going to change the whole field anyway,” said Maggi in the post-race interview. “And also, we were looking quite bad on Friday, but we had an issue that we had to resolve. I think we will be pretty strong in the rain. It usually goes really well (for the team) so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“It’s my second podium this year,” said Doubek in the post-race interview. “The first was in the Valencia race, I’m so happy but we had a really bad luck this season, so it’s nice to be back again on the podium. It was on the final lap, I think there was a place for one and a half car and it worked great.”
The race was slowed down due to two Safety Car periods caused by two separate incidents at Turn 4. The first Safety Car was called on Lap 3 after Hugo de Sadeleer spun off at Turn 4 on the first lap of the race. While the marshalls initially used localized yellow flags at Turn 4, the Safety Car had to be called after the recovery process of de Sadeleer’s No. 88 Ford Mustang took longer than expected.
The race was restarted on Lap 5, but it didn’t take long before the Safety Car had to be called again. Pol van Pollaert was battling Michael Bleekemolen and Jesse Vartiainen when he got loose at Turn 3 on Lap 6, sending his car into a spin to the grass. Vartiainen had to take avoiding action to the left of van Pollaert, but unfortunately Vartiainen also spun in the process and had his car beached in the gravel trap, forcing the Safety Car to be called at the start of Lap 7 to recover Vartiainen’s stricken Camaro.
Vartiainen eventually opted to retire in the pits after his car was recovered by the marshalls as van Pollaert amazingly didn’t lose any more positions in the spin as he was able to recover relatively quickly.
After the race was restarted for the final time on Lap 11, van Pollaert got into more trouble as he ran wide at Turn 3 again and this time, he can’t save his car as his No. 98 Ford Mustang careened itself to the tire barriers at Turn 4. Fortunately, the position of van Pollaert’s damaged Mustang is off-line enough to allow localized yellows to be used by the marshalls.
Vittorio Ghirelli ultimately missed out on the podium as he made a very poor restart on the final restart, with the Italian dropping from 3rd to 5th place on the final restart. Justin Kunz was able to quietly hang on to the lead pack throughout the race and was able to claim 5th place after Advait Deodhar, who had been running in the Top 5 all-race long, received two 30-second penalties for both an unsafe rejoin and colliding with Kunz shortly after the Indian driver ran wide on the final corner on the last lap of the race.
Alessandro Brigatti claimed sixth place ahead of the returning Freddie Hemborg, while Pierluigi Veronesi claims the bonus championship points for the most positions gained after he recovered from a lowly 18th place starting position to an 8th place finishing position. Niels Albert was able to claim a Top 10 finish on his very first NASCAR race in 9th place by taking advantage of the chaos that happened during the race.
Michael Bleekemolen claimed the Legend Trophy victory despite being he received a post-race time penalty for causing a collision with Myatt Snider on Lap 11 that ended the American’s race. Arianna Casoli missed out on her Top 10 finish since 2017 in 11th place, with Matthias Hauer claiming 12th place to complete the Legend Trophy podium.
Deodhar’s last lap shenanigans eventually demoted him to 13th place as the last car classified on the lead lap. Nicholas Risitano was classified in 14th after he was forced to retire on the penultimate lap due to a mechanical issue, while de Sadeleer completes the Top 15 after he rejoined the race following his spin early in the race.
Sven van Laere was classified in 16th after mechanical issues ended his race on Lap 13, while Naveh Talor finished two laps down in 17th place after he and Ian Eric Wadén collided on Lap 5. Talor received a 30-second time penalty post-race after the stewards determined that Talor was at fault, although it didn’t affect his finishing results in the end.
Wadén eventually finished three laps down in 18th place as the last car still running. Snider, van Pollaert, Vartiainen would round out the 21-car field with their respective retirements, while Ben Creanor was forced to not start the race due to the collision damage suffered by the No. 33 Mishumotors Camaro in Elite 1 race’s The Big One proved to be too severe for the team to be able to fix in time for the Elite 2 race.
FULL RACE RESULTS
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||6||Lasse Sørensen (66)||15||33:05.763|
|2.||1||Giorgio Maggi (50)||15||+ 0.442|
|3.||4||Martin Doubek (7)||15||+ 0.550|
|4.||2||Vittorio Ghirelli 24)||15||+ 2.060|
|5.||8||Justin Kunz (99)||15||+ 2.417|
|6.||11||Alessandro Brigatti (9)||15||+ 8.059|
|7.||14||Freddie Hemborg (77)||15||+ 12.685|
|8.||18||Pierluigi Veronesi (27)||15||+ 16.830|
|9.||19||Niels Albert (11)||15||+ 47.290|
|10.||15||Michael Bleekemolen (70)||15||+ 47.898 1|
|11.||20||Arianna Casoli (54)||15||+ 50.796|
|12.||21||Matthias Hauer (64)||15||+ 51.298|
|13.||7||Advait Deodhar (31)||15||+ 1:02.346 2|
|14.||9||Nicholas Risitano (8)||14||DNF (Mechanical)|
|15.||3||Hugo de Sadeleer (88)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|16.||22||Sven van Laere (78)||13||DNF (Mechanical)|
|17.||17||Naveh Talor (12)||13||+ 2 Laps 3|
|18.||16||Ian Eric Wadén (23)||12||+ 3 Laps|
|19.||10||Myatt Snider (48)||11||DNF (Collision)|
|20.||12||Pol van Pollaert (98)||10||DNF (Accident)|
|21.||5||Jesse Vartiainen (2)||7||DNF (Accident)|
|22.||13||Ben Creanor (33)||0||DNS (Collision Damage)|
1 Bleekemolen received a 30-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Myatt Snider, but Deodhar’s post-race time penalty meant that Bleekemolen retains his 10th place finishing result.
2 Deodhar originally finished 5th, but he received two 30-second post-race time penalties for an unsafe rejoin on the last lap and colliding with Justin Kunz shortly after his unsafe rejoin.
3 Talor received a 30-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Ian Eric Wadén, but it didn’t affect his race result.
In the championship race, Sørensen’s victory meant that the gap between him and Giorgio Maggi in the Elite 2 standings is now reduced to just one point. Vittorio Ghirelli was able to hold on to third in the standings, but a 72-point deficit to Maggi meant that Ghirelli is all but eliminated from the championship race as while there’s still a maximum of 88 points to be earned in the Sunday race, with only 22 cars in the Elite 2 field at Zolder, Ghirelli won’t be able to claim enough points to overcome this deficit unless both Maggi and Sørensen failed to start tomorrow’s race.
The one-point gap between Maggi and Sørensen in the standings does mean that the title race will come down to the wire, as whichever driver that crosses the finish line first in Sunday’s race is going to be crowned the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Elite 2 Champion.
Will Giorgio Maggi become the first Swiss driver to win the Euro Series title and potentially give Hendriks Motorsport the title sweep in the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season, or will Lasse Sørensen become the first Danish driver to win the Euro Series title and the first NASCAR driver to win the title despite having to miss at least one race since Kyle Busch in 2015?
Find out today on the final Elite 2 race of the season at Circuit Zolder, live at 11:15 CEST on FansChoice.tv, Motorsport.tv, and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ official Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.