Earlier today, it has been announced by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series that 2000 NASCAR Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte and the defending Junior World Rally Championship champion Jan Solans is scheduled to make a wildcard appearance on today’s EuroNASCAR Esports Series race at iRacing’s virtual Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.
For Labonte, it will mark his return to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series after racing for Mishumotors in the No. 70 team at Valencia last year. Labonte, the first American to compete full-time in Euro Series, has been active in sim racing competitions after Joe Gibbs Racing chose the 55-year old Hall of Famer to drive JGR’s virtual No. 19 Toyota Camry in the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series.
Labonte and Solans will be joined by Slot Car World Champion Michael Niemas and Le Mans Classic regular Michal Fronek as the wildcard entries that are scheduled to compete this week. Solans will be replacing Iker Lecuona in the No. 727 Fordzilla team, while Niemas and Fronek will be competing in the Hockenheim and Autodrom Most wildcard entries respectively. Labonte’s ride for the Esports Series, on the other hand, is currently unknown as of the writing of this article.
Frédéric Gabillon, Gašper Dernovšek, and Gordon J. Barnes will also enter the EuroNASCAR Esports Series for the first time this week. Gabillon will enter in his usual No. 3 RDV Competition entry, while both Dernovšek and Barnes will compete for Marko Stipp Motorsport in the No. 146 and No. 246 entries respectively.
This week’s running of the EuroNASCAR Esports Series will feature the same format as it did with the Prologue at virtual Daytona last week. After a 5-minute long Qualifying session, the field will be split into three Heat Races that will feature a field of 20 cars. The Top 10 finishers from each Heat Race will automatically qualify for the Main Event while the rest will enter the Last Chance Qualifier, where only six drivers will advance to the Main Event from the LCQ.
The 36 qualified drivers would then race in the Main Event where it would determine the points standings and the points teams get in the real-life Teams Championship. Only the highest finishing driver from each team would be awarded with points in the Teams Championship.
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series also announced that up to 70 drivers are listed in the Entry List for Brands Hatch Indy. While the full field list is currently unknown, should all 70 drivers enter the race today, it would mean that 10 drivers will be sent “home” in Qualifying as only the fastest 60 drivers will enter the Heat Races that will ultimately determine the starters for the Main Event later today.
Disclaimer: All photos used in this article are courtesy of the respective sources.