Lasse Sørensen claims his second victory of 2020 in a highly thrilling race at Circuit Ricardo Tormo that saw action from start to finish as the Dane outdueled defending champion Loris Hezemans while PK Carsport drivers Alon Day and Stienes Longin suffered issues that’ll hamper their championship hopes.
In a very thrilling first race for the EuroNASCAR PRO class drivers at the Valencia Super Speedweek doubleheaders, Lasse Sørensen secured his second race win of the 2020 season after he outdueled Loris Hezemans in one of the best battles for the lead that the series have seen.
Stienes Longin had been leading for the first half of the race, but a sudden cluth failure for the Belgian on lap 10 promotes Hezemans and Sørensen to the lead of the race. The lead battle between the two primary championship contenders saw Sørensen and Hezemans going side-by-side and wheel-to-wheel for almost a full lap before Sorensen claimed the lead and with it, the race win in Friday’s race.
“It’s always good with a win, huge thanks to the team with the car” said Sorensen in the Victory Lane. “We have a big problem in Qualifying yesterday and all the mechanics did a great job to make sure the car was running. We’re losing some power from the engine, but the set-up is good and I’m sure the 66 Chevrolet Camaro is going to fight hard for the second race tomorrow!”
The race started off with drama when pole sitter Alon Day tangled with Gianmarco Ercoli on the first corner. The incident sent the Italian into the gravel trap and dropped him down to the back of the field as Stienes Longin made an excellent start and took advantage of the first corner drama to grab the lead of the race from Hezemans.
Lucas Lasserre also made a great start and climbed up five places to put himself in the podium positions, which was challenged by him, debutant Olivier Hart, and Sørensen. As the field heads to Doohan on the second lap, Sørensen was forced to take avoiding action after Hart, trying to find a way pass Lasserre, switched to the outside lane and nearly rammed into Sørensen’s Camaro.
The incident dropped Sørensen down to 6th while Day finds himself back up to 5th place, which soon turned into 4th after he passed Hart at Angel Nieto and later into 3rd place after he overtook Lasserre at Aspar on the start of the following lap.
Several corners later, Sørensen overtook Hart at Nico Terol before he finds a way past Lasserre at Aspar on lap 4. With help from Hart, who tried to overtake the more experienced Frenchman from Doohan to Nico Terol, Sørensen broke away from the battling Hart-Lasserre pack and started his own charge to the front.
By the end of the same lap, Day had already caught up to Hezemans, who struggled to keep up with Longin in the lead. Day passed Hezemans for 2nd place on lap 6, but at the very moment he made the pass, Day received words that he had a drive-through penalty after he was deemed guilty for causing the first corner incident. Day duly took his penalty on the following lap, dropping him down behind the returning Patrick Lemarié as he exited the pits.
Two laps later, Sørensen now finds himself on the tail of Hezemans’ Mustang when a race-changing incident occurred at the final corner. Stienes, who had built up a gap of 2.5 seconds to Hezemans, suddenly crawled into a halt as he exited Adrián Campos due to a clutch failure on his No. 11 Projob Camaro, promoting Hezemans into the lead and Sørensen into second place.
What followed is one of the most memorable lead battles in Euro Series history. Sørensen made the first move as he tries to overtake Hezemans from the outside at Bernat Martínez and both drivers spent the second half of their 10th laps practically side-by-side before Sørensen managed to muscle his way past Hezemans around the outside of Adrián Campos.
Hezemans, however, did not gave up the position easily and kept the No. 66 Camaro on his side through the next five corners, both drivers using all the available piece of tarmac and asphalt run-off they can get before Sørensen eventually completed the pass at the exit of Turn 5.
From then on, no one can challenge Sørensen as he went on to claim his second victory in Euro Series’ top class – and the ninth of his career – by 3.313 seconds over Hezemans.
Behind the leading duo, Lucas Lasserre managed to find his way back up to third place again and eventually fended off Marc Goossens to claim his second podium finish of the season.
Ercoli impressively climbed back up to 5th place at the line while Hart had a highly respectable debut race, crossing the line in 6th place but he received a post-race time penalty that dropped him to 10th. Day eventually climbed back up to 7th (which became 6th after Hart’s penalty), but he claimed the fastest lap by some margin to secure himself pole position for Race 2 of GP Spain tomorrow.
Justin Kunz and Giorgio Maggi finished 7th and 8th respectively as Davide Dallara finished 9th to claim yet another victory in the Challenger Trophy. Mauro Trione just missed out on a chance to get a second consecutive Top 10 finish while Dario Caso, who started from the pit lane, claimed the bonus points for most positions gained after he finished 12th from what is technically a 19th place starting grid position.
Fellow debutant Alberto Panebianco claimed a 13th place finish ahead of Evgeny Sokolovsky, the last car still on the lead lap. First lap issues for Nicolo Rocca and Francesco Sini puts them down 1 lap and 2 laps down respectively, while Lemarié was forced to retire after completing 10 laps due to another mechanical failure.
Ander Vilarino, meanwhile, had a day to forget at Valencia. Vilarino encountered all sort of problems as he made repeated visits to the pit lane due to reoccurring engine problems to the No. 48 HAMA Trucks Camaro. He eventually did make it to the checkered flag in 19th place, 10 laps down from Sorensen but he also set a lap time that is comparable with those in the Top 5 finishing positions.
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||4||Lasse Sørensen (66)||18||31:00.833|
|2.||3||Loris Hezemans (50)||18||+ 3.313|
|3.||8||Lucas Lasserre (33)||18||+ 4.223|
|4.||6||Marc Goossens (98)||18||+ 9.4461|
|5.||2||Gianmarco Ercoli (54)||18||+ 9.526|
|6.||1||Alon Day (24)||18||+ 12.172|
|7.||12||Justin Kunz (99)||18||+ 15.759|
|8.||10||Giorgio Maggi (18)||18||+ 19.736|
|9.||14||Davide Dallara (89)||18||+ 20.218|
|10.||9||Olivier Hart (7)||18||+ 20.8212|
|11.||13||Mauro Trione (31)||18||+ 27.017|
|12.||PL||Dario Caso (8)||18||+ 36.497|
|13.||16||Alberto Panebianco (10)||18||+ 53.466|
|14.||18||Evgeny Sokolovsky (46)||18||+ 1:07.816|
|15.||7||Nicolò Rocca (22)||17||+ 1 Lap|
|16.||11||Francesco Sini (12)||16||+ 2 Laps3|
|17.||15||Patrick Lemarié (6)||10||DNF (Mechanical)|
|18.||5||Stienes Longin (11)||9||DNF (Clutch)|
|19.||18||Ander Vilariño (48)||8||+ 10 Laps|
1 Marc Goossens received a 5-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Francesco Sini.
2 Olivier Hart initially finished 6th, but he received a 10-second time penalty for forcing Sørensen off-track on lap 2.
3 Francesco Sini received a 5-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Marc Goossens.
Sørensen’s victory, coupled with Day’s penalty, meant that the Danish driver has closed the gap to Day to just 5 points. Loris Hezemans’ podium now brings him up to third, leading Gianmarco Ercoli by virtue of having more second place finishes than the Italian as Marc Goossens climbed up to 5th following Stienes’ early retirement.
Lasserre’s podium moved him ahead of Francesco Sini in the standings as Mauro Trione and Giorgio Maggi closes out the Top 10 with three races to go.
With 220 points still disputed, the results of Friday’s race meant Panebianco, Daniel Rowbottom, and Vilariño has been mathematically eliminated from the championship as they were more than 220 points behind Day in the standings.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.