Photo courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

On 11 December, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series announced the drivers that are scheduled to take part in the second – and final – edition of the 2020 Drivers Recruitment Program, which is scheduled to be held on both today and tomorrow at NWES’ official test track Circuit de Fontenay-Le-Comte. A total of 22 drivers from across the globe will take part in the December Test Day sessions for an opportunity to earn financial aid that will allow the chosen drivers to compete in the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season.

Yesterday, we made an article to help fans get to know the 11 drivers that are chosen to take part in yesterday’s Test Day session, a field that features drivers such as NASCAR Home Tracks star Julia Landauer and GT4 European Series race winner Alex Lambertz. With a different field of drivers that will test out the EuroNASCAR cars in today’s Test Day, today’s article will be a similar one as we’re giving you a short rundown on the profiles for the 11 drivers that are scheduled to take part in the final day of the Drivers Recruitment Program today at Fontenay.

Photo courtesy of Gordon J Barnes on Twitter

Gordon Barnes

Date of Birth:
Birth Place: United Kingdom

An IT consultant and Software Developer that also works as a racing driver, Gordon J. Barnes has been a long-time participant in the European Late Model racing scene and last competed in Raceway Venray’s Late Model V8 Oval Series driving the No. 24 Chevrolet SS for Hendriks Motorsport. After a year away from racing, Barnes was announced as one of the eleven drivers that have been chosen to take part in today’s NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Drivers Recruitment Program as he looks on a possibility to make the jump to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series next year.

Photo courtesy of V8 Thunder NEZ

Markku Blomqvist

Date of Birth:
Birth Place: Finland

A V8 ThunderCars veteran, Markku Blomqvist has been competing in the V8 ThunderCars for several years alongside his son Petri. Earlier this year, Markku scored his first ever career podium finish in the V8 ThunderCars on his way to finish in fourth in this year’s V8 ThunderCars NEZ season. He, along with his son Petri, has been chosen by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to take part in today’s Drivers Recruitment Program Test Day at Fontenay as he, Petri, and Santtu Vuoksenturja will represent the V8 ThunderCars drivers that could make the jump to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for next year.

Photo courtesy of V8 Thunder NEZ

Petri Blomqvist

Date of Birth:
Birth Place: Finland

The son of Markku, Petri Blomqvist is among one of the three V8 ThunderCars NEZ drivers that is scheduled to take part in today’s Test Day session at Fontenay. Petri, who has competed alongside Markku in V8 ThunderCars for the last few years, enjoyed a very successful season this year as he scored one victory and four podium finishes to finish second to Toni Lähteenmäki in the championship. The opportunity to test out the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series cars today will represent a new chapter in his racing career as both he and Markku will be looking for a possible move to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series next year.

Photo courtesy of ESET V4 Cup

Gašper Dernovšek

Date of Birth:
Birth Place: Slovenia

Gašper Dernovšek is a Slovenian racing driver that currently competes for Lema Racing in ESET V4 Cup’s Renault Twingo Cup. He was introduced to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series last year when he visited the NASCAR GP of Italy at Franciacorta as a spectator. The introduction would ultimately lead him to sign up for this year’s Drivers Recruitment Program and as part of the drivers that were chosen to take part in today’s Test Day, he would be testing out the 5.7L V8-engined EuroNASCAR cars for the first time today at Circuit de Fontenay-le-Comte.

Photo courtesy of ilTornante.it

Luigi Ferrara

Date of Birth: 12 May 1982
Birth Place: Bari, Italy

The only returning driver from this year’s Drivers Recruitment Program November Test Days, Luigi Ferrara made his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series debut for 42 Racing in the Elite 1 class at his home race in Franciacorta earlier this year. Ferrara impressed in his debut race week as he scored a Top 5 finish in his very first race and was on course for another Top 10 finish on Race 2 before he was forced to retire midway through the race due to a suspension failure in his Ford Mustang.

His participation in today’s Test Day will not only give him the chance to test out the EuroNASCAR cars for a possible full-time move next year, but it will also give him an opportunity to help coach Franco Leogrande once more after Leogrande tested the No. 42 Ford Mustang that Ferrara campaigned earlier in the year.

Photo courtesy of ilTornante.it

Franco Leogrande

Date of Birth:
Birth Place: Italy

A gentleman driver that made a name for himself thanks to his successes in Italy’s hillclimb championships, Franco Leogrande tested 42 Racing’s No. 42 Ford Mustang NASCAR Whelen Euro Series car earlier this year at Autodromo del Levante and became impressed with it immediately. This test would ultimately open up an opportunity for him to further test out the EuroNASCAR cars as he has been selected by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as one of the 11 drivers that will take part in the final Test Day of this year’s Drivers Recruitment Program.

Photo courtesy of ACI Sport

Bernardo Manfrè

Date of Birth: 1965
Birth Place: Milan, Italy

Little is known about Bernardo Manfrè’s previous racing career, but it is known that he competed in Formula Renault 2.0 Italy at the start of the millennium before he made the move to sports car racing where he competed in various prototype championships across his home country of Italy. Today’s Driver Recruitment Program Test Day at Fontenay will see Manfrè made his first laps in a stock car racing after he was selected as one of the 11 drivers that are scheduled to take part in today’s Test Day.

Photo courtesy of Federico Monti #25

Federico Monti

Date of Birth:
Birth Place: Montecatini, Italy

An Italian motorcycle racer that previously achieved success in Campionatio Italiano Velocita’s Superstock 600 class and competed alongside the likes of 2017 Moto2 World Champion and Petronas Yamaha star Franco Morbidelli in his career years, Federico Monti has been living away from racing ever since he retired from CIV Stock 600 in the middle of the 2014 season.

His surprise naming as one of the 11 drivers chosen by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for today’s Drivers Recruitment Program Test Day meant that this will mark his return to any kind of racing activity for the first time in five years and Monti could possibly made the rare motorcycle racing-to-car racing career switch as he chases an opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for next year. 

Photo courtesy of Yevgen Sokolovskiy

Yevgen Sokolovskiy

Date of Birth: 7 November 1978
Birth Place: Odessa, Soviet Union (today part of Ukraine)

The owner of Vector Racing Team that formerly competed in the Supersport World Championship, Yevgen Sokolovskiy (his front name can be spelt as “Evgeniy” and “Eugene” as well) have dabbled into for oval racing for some time with his participation in Raceway Venray’s various local championships. This year, he made the jump to the Late Model V8 Oval Series – Venray’s most prestigious championship – and it proved to be a tough season for the Ukraine-born Russian as he finished 14th in the final standings with his No. 48 Chevrolet SS late model car.

The passion for oval racing would push him to try and move to the next level as he joins Charles Lacarre – who took part in the November tests – to represent the Late Model V8 Oval Series competitors in this year’s NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Drivers Recruitment Program.

Photo courtesy of Alexis van de Poele

Alexis van de Poele

Date of Birth: 21 June 1989
Birth Place: Incourt, Belgium

The son of 1987 DTM champion, multiple-times Le Mans class winner and former Formula One driver Eric van de Poele, Alexis van de Poele represents the second generation of the van de Poele racing family. Having started his career in the VW Fun Cup in 2009, he moved to Belcar and Belgian Touring Car Series in 2011 and achieved success immediately when he was crowned as the champion of the Belgian Touring Car Series’ S2 class.

Just like his father, Alexis chose sports car and touring car racing as his career path of choice as he had raced in series such as IMSA Prototype Challenge, Audi Sport TT Cup, and TCR Benelux. A surprise move to the world of stock car racing can be happening next year if Alexis secured the Drivers Recruitment Program’s reward that would allow him to compete in the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season.

Photo courtesy of racinGPalvelu

Santtu Vuoksenturja

Date of Birth:
Birth Place: Finland

Santtu Vuoksenturja makes his return to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series after he took part in last year’s edition of the Drivers Recruitment Program. After his participation in the Drivers Recruitment Program last year, Vuoksenturja was signed by Henri Tuomaala’s racinGPalvelu V8 ThunderCars NEZ team to replace Ian Eric Waden’s in the No. 69 Castrol Chevrolet Camaro team. He scored several podium finishes to finish in 7th place in his debut V8 ThunderCars season.

Because Tuomaala and Waden competed in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series with Memphis Racing in the No. 23 entry this year, this meant that Vuoksenturja also became a Memphis Racing junior driver this year and thus, a move to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series looks to be a likely possibility for the young Finnish driver as he looks to follow the footsteps of Tuomaala and Waden and compete in Europe’s premier stock car racing series for next year.

Disclaimer: All photos used in this article are courtesy of the respective sources.

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