On 7-8 November, the first Test Day sessions of the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Drivers Recruitment Program took place at Circuit de Fontenay-Le-Comte in France. A total of 13 drivers from 7 different countries took the wheel of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series cars at Fontenay as they battled for a chance to earn a “scholarship” financial aid that will allow them to compete in the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season.
Zach Banks, Tobias Dauenhauer, Marcel Lenerz, Liroy Stuart, Antoine Sansone, Pim and Lorenzo van Riet, Patrick Gaillard Sr. and Jr., Deo Alves, Francesco Garisto, Luigi Ferrara, and Charles Lacarre were chosen as the 13 drivers that took part in the first 2020 NWES Drivers Recruitment Program Test Day. With NWES founder, President, and CEO Jerome Galpin overseeing the event, the drivers completed several runs both in wet and dry conditions under the guidance of series veteran and 2009-10 champion Lucas Lasserre.
As reported by euronascar.com in their article, the reception from the drivers that took part in the Test Day proved to be positive. Both young talents and experienced veterans said that the NWES cars are fun to drive, with some of the younger talents noting that the Test Day is the first time that they drove a car with a H-pattern gearbox.
“It was just amazing, the V8 sound is fantastic and the car is so much fun, it’s pure racing,” said Tobias Dauenhauer, the 21-year old German who currently competes in the ADAC GT4 Germany. “I love the fact you have no electronic aids, so it’s the driver who makes the difference. All my runs were in wet conditions, I had to be very smooth with the throttle, but I had a lot of fun. I would really like to join the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, I think it’s a great opportunity and an ideal step for young drivers to become professionals. I want to thank NWES, Wolfgang Koepp, Hendriks Motorsport and Toine Hezemans for giving me this opportunity, it was a wonderful experience.”
“It was really impressive and cool, it’s pure race driving, with no electronic filters between you and the car and the sound is just impressive,” said Marcel Lenerz, the 22-year old German that currently competes in VLN. “It was also my first time on a race car with an H-pattern gearbox and was really funny, even in the wet. My goal is definitely to race in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series next year.”
“I found myself immediately at ease with the car,” said Francesco Garisto, the 17-year old Italian that currently competes in Lotus Cup Italia. “You have to drive it in a very clean and craft your driving technique. It’s very easy to perceive where the limit is, but I think it will take a lot of effort to constantly drive around that limit. I don’t even have a driving license, so this was my first time with an H-pattern gearbox and it was a lot of fun! My goal is definitely to be on the grid in 2020. There is still a lot to do but that’s my goal for next year.”
“It was the first time for me on a race car since 1985 and I have to say I really enjoyed myself, it was a fantastic experience,” said Patrick Gaillard Sr., the 67-year old Frenchman who competed with Ensign Racing in the 1979 Formula One season. “The car is so pure and clear, it’s just you and your right foot on the throttle, a steering wheel, an engine and a gearbox. It’s up to you to find the right feeling. It is such a great car to drive. The whole team was very friendly and the atmosphere in the pit box was so relaxed. As I said, I really enjoyed myself and I want to thank the NWES organization for this opportunity. I’ll do my best to be on the grid in 2020.”
“I’m happy I could improve on each of the three sessions and it tells me that I understood the car, its reaction and that understanding allowed me to keep pushing it further, said Charles Lacarre to leadlap. “The car felt docile and you could actually feel the rubber and chassis working. It was great to gauge how far you could push the car. I ended the day 0.180 seconds off the best lap time and I was told my overall laps were the most consistent amongst all drivers.
After all, it felt great to be back in a race car, a feeling that had left me since August. Thank you to Jerome Galpin for offering this opportunity and the whole NWES team for being there on Friday and providing a great service along with a great car. I met nice people and got along well with the other drivers, particularly Zach Banks, who came all the way from Miami, and Francesco Garisto from Italy,” further adds the 19-year old Frenchman that will celebrate his 20th birthday on 16 November.
The 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Drivers Recruitment Program will be continued on 12-13 December for the second Test Day session, also held at Circuit de Fontenay-le-Comte in France. The 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series itself will start on 25-26 April 2020 with the traditional season-opening round – the Valencia NASCAR Fest – at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of Wolfgang Koepp.