NASCAR GP Croatia’s Entry List has revealed that Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Lemarie would skip the round at Rijeka due to prior commitments, while veteran driver Wilfried Boucenna is scheduled to make his first start in the series since 2018.
While the American NASCAR season would end their 2020 season this weekend with the Championship rounds at Phoenix, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is gearing itself up for its first visit to Croatia as 22 teams and 46 drivers are listed to take part on next weekend’s race at Automotodrom Grobnik.
Rijeka’s Entry List reveals that Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Lemarié, FEED Racing’s co-founders, would not take part next weekend. Lemarié revealed on Twitter that a prior work obligation meant that both him and JV would be forced to skip the round at Croatia, although Lemarié has also confirmed that they will be returning for the season-ending doubleheader round at Valencia next month.
Their non-participation at Rijeka meant that they would effectively forfeit their title chances in what has been a tough season for both drivers. Villeneuve, arguably one of the fastest drivers on raw pace this year, has been set back with two mechanical failures and a points penalty at Zolder, while Lemarié’s solid debut at Vallelunga was then followed by a double retirement at Zolder.
JV and Lemarié’s non-participation also meant that FEED Vict will be bringing just two cars, the No. 6 FJ and No. 8 Camaro, to Rijeka. Lemarié’s absence also meant that FEED’s protege Simon Pilate is going to make his debut appearance in the PRO class as Lemarié’s replacement driver. Pilate, along with Evgeny Sokolovsky, are listed in Entry List as the drivers scheduled to be doing the double duty next weekend.
Sokolovsky’s double duty effort, interestingly, will see him drive in two different cars for Rijeka. He’ll continue to drive the No. 48 car in the PRO class as he’ll continue to replace Gasper Dernovsek in the No. 46 MSM car, now repaired after the crash that it suffered at Vallelunga.
Accompanying Sokolovsky in the No. 46 MSM car is Wilfried Boucenna, who is scheduled to be making his first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series appearance since the 2018 season finale round at Zolder. Boucenna, a highly experienced driver in EuroNASCAR and the former record holder for the driver with most starts in the PRO class, is scheduled to make his 78th and 79th starts in the series with the German-based team next week.
Croatian hillclimb icon Niko Pulic is scheduled to make his NASCAR debut at his home track in the No. 1 Alex Caffi Motorsport / Race Art Technology Ford, while Frank Riedel is also scheduled to make his debut as the new EN2 driver of DF1’s No. 99 team.
Giovanni Trione and Daniel Rowbottom are also expected to return to their respective rides after missing the previous round at Zolder, while Solaris Motorsport will be sporting a slightly modified scheme for their No. 12 Camaro next week.
In the Club Challenge category, Thomas Blumberger will be making his Club Challenge debut in the No. 22 team, while Federico Monti’s entry at Not Only Motorsport will now receive support from the Alex Caffi/Race Art team.
Vladimiros Tziortzis, Julia Landauer, and Francesco Garisto are also listed in the Entry List for Club Challenge, although it is expected that all three drivers will be taking part in Club Challenge to gain extra practice time just like in the previous round at Zolder.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.