Ex-Formula One driver and 4-time Italian Superstars Series champion Gianni Morbidelli is set to be making his debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series this year after it was announced yesterday that he has signed a contract with CAAL Racing to compete for the full-season in the EuroNASCAR PRO class.
Morbidelli, who briefly raced for Ferrari in 1991 and scored a podium finish with Footwork Arrows in the 1995 Australian Grand Prix, is set to become driving the No. 88 CEPI T.A.A.S. Chevrolet SS as the PRO class partner of Max Lanza.
The announcement meant that Morbidelli is also set to make his return to stock car racing. Twelve years ago, Morbidelli along with Jacques Villeneuve and various other ex-Formula One drivers raced in the short-lived Speedcar Series and he was crowned as the series’ final champion after he beat Johnny Herbert to the title in the 2008-09 season.
“I look forward to making my debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series with CAAL Racing and the Canneori family and enjoy this season,” said Morbidelli to euronascar.com. “We have always been on opposite sides, but I always respected Corrado and Luca Canneori and their team. We share the same passion and they are genuine people and I’m glad we finally found a way to race together thanks also to the efforts of our common friends [touring car driver] Gabriele Marotta and [CAAL Racing track engineer] Carmelo Scoglio.”
“EuroNASCAR has a great appeal for the public and exalts the human side not only for the drivers but also for the fans, who can experience the events being very close to the protagonists and have a unique time. This is something too often missing in our sport and it is wonderful to be able to find it again.”
Morbidelli had done his first test with the team last month as part of CAAL and Solaris Motorsport’s joint test session at Adria. In the official announcement, CAAL Racing team principal Luca Canneori states his confidence with the results of the test at Adria and said that the team will do more testing to prepare themselves for the 2020 season later this month.
“It’s fantastic to be able to welcome Gianni in our CAAL Racing team,” said Canneori on the team’s signing of Morbidelli. “It’s definitely an honour to work with a driver with such a long, successful and continuative career, but it’s also a responsibility for us to do our best and put him in position to obtain the best possible results. It’s a challenge we are happy to accept.”
“We put a lot of confidence in our work and the first shakedown was already positive. We look forward to a couple more test days at the end of March and to the Valencia pre-season practice to be ready from the beginning.”
Morbidelli will not set up a specific goal for his debut season in the series. For the 52-year old Italian, he will be focusing on adapting to the EuroNASCAR stock cars and to enjoy the level of competition that the series will present this year.
“It always takes some time to adapt to a new car and a new series and you always have to adopt a respectful and cautious approach. I don’t usually set goals because I can’t see the future. The main thing for me is to be able to enjoy the competition and teamwork. Then when you have fun, usually results start coming,”said Morbidelli on his goals for 2020.
“Even if I have been involved in motorsports for 40 years, there are many strong drivers who have a lot of specific knowledge of these cars and I hope that with my experience I can speed up the learning process a little bit. I look forward to meeting them and the many young talents racing in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series on track!”
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / CAAL Racing / Motorsport.com.