Vittorio Ghirelli continues to be the driver to beat in the EuroNASCAR 2 class at Rijeka as he fends off the challenge from teammate Tobias Dauenhauer and led from start to finish in the Saturday EuroNASCAR 2 race to become the first winner of a NASCAR race held in Croatia, as well as extending his lead in the championship.

After he led the two Practice sessions and claimed pole in the Qualifying session, Vittorio Ghirelli continued to prove himself as the driver to beat in the EuroNASCAR 2 class as he led from start to finish in the Saturday EN2 race at Rijeka to claim his first win of the season.

His victory in Race 1 marked Ghirelli’s second career victory in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as Hendriks Motorsport continues the perfect win streak that they have in Euro Series’ junior class this year.

“I had a win last year, but this year it was the first of the season. I’m very happy, throughout the weekend we have a good pace and have been in front for all the sessions. Big thanks to all the sponsors for the support, my family and the team for all the good work and let’s keep it up for tomorrow,” said Ghirelli in the Victory Lane.

Despite leading from start to finish, it was not an easy victory for Ghirelli as teammate Tobias Dauenhauer kept Ghirelli honest for the entire race. The German, who had previously swept the weekend at Vallelunga, was able to keep up with Ghirelli throughout the 14-lap race but he ultimately couldn’t find the extra inch of performance needed to beat the all-conquering Italian in the race yesterday, although he did secure the win in the Rookie Trophy sub-classification.

Finishing third is Nicholas Risitano, who fended off Martin Doubek in the third Hendriks car to claim his second podium finish of the season. Despite missing out of the podium, Doubek climbed up 4 positions to claim the extra championship points for the most positions gained during the race.

Dylan Derdaele had been running comfortably in third during the first half of the race when he started to lose pace in the second half. Derdaele eventually finished just 0.204 seconds ahead of Alessandro Brigatti to claim his first Top 5 finish of the year.

With Arianna Casoli not participating due to the Qualifying crash that she suffered earlier in the day, Julia Landauer claimed the win in Lady Trophy by default as Landauer secured her second Top 10 finish of the year with a 7th place finish on Saturday.

Engine issues prevented Simon Pilate from advancing further than 8th place, while Francesco Garisto finished 9th in his first race with Marko Stipp. Giovanni Trione completes the Top 10, also his second Top 10 finish of the year.

Mirco Schultis’ return to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series saw the Mishumotors owner-driver claim his first victory in the Legend Trophy this year, fending off Evgeny Sokolovsky by just 0.642 seconds at the line. Frank Riedel in his debut race completes the podium in Legend Trophy.

After an impressive Practice and Qualifying, Vladimiros Tziortzis had a race to forget on Saturday. A poor start saw the Cypriot dropped down to sixth at the end of the first lap and he spun out to the gravel trap while battling Derdaele and Brigatti late in the race, making him the only driver to retire from the race.

Lanza and Casoli’s crash meant that only 15 drivers started the EuroNASCAR 2 race yesterday, the lowest car count in Euro Series’ junior class since the race at Venray last year. Coincidentally, Vittorio Ghirelli also won that race, his first career victory and the only win he scored last year.

Race Results

1. 1 Vittorio Ghirelli (18) 14 20:51.821
2. 2 Tobias Dauenhauer (50) 14 + 1.854
3. 6 Nicholas Risitano (12) 14 + 16.115
4. 8 Martin Doubek (7) 14 + 14.634
5. 4 Dylan Derdaele (98) 14 + 25.286
6. 5 Alessandro Brigatti (8) 14 + 10.804
7. 7 Julia Landauer (11) 14 + 18.836
8. 11 Simon Pilate (6) 14 + 35.128
9. 10 Francesco Garisto (46) 14 + 39.935
10. 12 Giovanni Trione (31) 14 + 53.154
11. 14 Mirco Schultis (70) 14 + 1:13.277
12. 13 Evgeny Sokolovsky (48) 14 + 1:13.819
13. 15 Frank Riedel (99) 13 + 1 Lap
14. 17 Igor Romanov (89) 13 + 1 Lap
15. 3 Vladimiros Tziortzis (1) 10 DNF (Spun Off)
16. 10 Max Lanza (88) 0 DNS (Did Not Start)
17. 16 Arianna Casoli (54) 0 DNS (Did Not Start)

The win in the first EuroNASCAR 2 race at Rijeka would extend Ghirelli’s lead in the championship as the gap between him and Dauenhauer grew to 7 points. Alessandro Brigatti stays in third with 161 points, while Tziortzis kept fourth place in the championship despite his spin late in the race.

Nicholas Risitano’s podium finish puts him back inside the Top 5 in the championship, while Julia Landauer moves up to sixth as she chases an opportunity to beat the all-time record for the highest championship standings finish by a female driver in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series that was set by Francesca Linossi, who finished 9th in the 2015 Elite 2 standings.

The extra championship points for the most positions gained helped carry Zolder double winner Martin Doubek up to 9th place in the standings despite he missed the first two races of the season due to a positive COVID-19 test prior to Vallelunga.

Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.

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