Hendriks Motorsport is now eight wins on eight races in EuroNASCAR 2 as Vittorio Ghirelli completed the NASCAR GP Spain sweep to further showcase the Dutch team’s dominance in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ junior class, as well as to further extend his lead in the championship standings.
Another round, another showcase of Hendriks Motorsport’s domination in the EuroNASCAR 2 class as Vittorio Ghirelli sweeps the first set of races at Circuit Ricardo Tormo to further extend his lead in the championship standings coming to the double-points paying Finals.
The first race of the day for EuroNASCAR 2 was held with a threat of sudden downpour looming, as rain fell just moments before the formation lap were about to begin. This, coupled with the colder track conditions, necessitated a second formation lap to be held out of safety concerns.
Ghirelli, starting from pole, was able to get himself ahead on the first corner but collisions in the middle of the pack resulted in Giovanni Trione finding himself stuck in the gravel trap on the short run between Aspar and Doohan. Simon Pilate also found himself grinding to a halt at Doohan, although he was able to rejoin the race and went on to finish 5 laps down in 18th place.
After the Safety Car was called to allow marshalls to recover Trione’s stricken No. 31 NSR/Delphix FJ, Ghirelli managed to get the holeshot at the restart and started to build a gap to the field.
However, a power steering issue in the closing laps of the race allowed teammate Martin Doubek to caught up to the tail of Ghirelli’s Mustang. Doubek tried to attack as hard as he can on the final lap, but ultimately Ghirelli was able to hold off Doubek by just 0.384 seconds to claim his third win of the season.
In a showcase of the vortex theory popularized by three-time Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip, the rain fell just as Ghirelli drove his car to the Victory Lane to celebrate Hendriks Motorsport’s seventh win in the junior class this year.
“It was a tough race in tricky conditions,” said Ghirelli, who brought his car to Victory Lane in the moment heavy rain started to fall in Valencia. “Due to an issue with the power steering my teammate was able to catch up. I didn’t mind that we had an intense battle in the end, that’s NASCAR racing and as long it stays fair everything is fine for me. We did what we needed to do and we want to carry on like this.”
Nicholas Risitano grabbed the final podium spot to score his fourth podium finish of the season as Tobias Dauenhauer and Vladimiros Tziortizis completed the Top 5.
Alessandro Brigatti only finished sixth ahead of Dylan Derdaele as Julia Landauer finished 8th to claim yet another win in the Lady Trophy. A late retirement for Mirco Schultis would give Kenko Miura the win in Legend Trophy as Francesco Garisto secured the bonus points for most positions gained with his 10th place finish, having started from last due to not setting a lap time in Qualifying on Thursday.
Leevi Lintukanto just misses out on a Top 10 finish in his debut Euro Series race as Zihara Esteban finished one lap down in her first race in the series since 2013. Esteban, along with fellow returning driver Naveh Talor, received a drive-through penalty for restart procedure violations.
Race 1 Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Vittorio Ghirelli (18)||15||28:00.897|
|2.||2||Martin Doubek (7)||15||+ 0.384|
|3.||5||Nicholas Risitano (12)||15||+ 7.926|
|4.||4||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||15||+ 11.525|
|5.||3||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||15||+ 12.995|
|6.||6||Alessandro Brigatti (8)||15||+ 13.442|
|7.||8||Dylan Derdaele (98)||15||+ 24.636|
|8.||7||Julia Landauer (11)||15||+ 27.152|
|9.||11||Kenko Miura (99)||15||+ 27.612|
|10.||18||Francesco Garisto (48)||15||+ 28.566|
|11.||14||Leevi Lintukanto (10)||15||+ 39.583|
|12.||17||Eric Quintal (33)||15||+ 1:00.609|
|13.||15||Evgeny Sokolovsky (46)||15||+ 1:08.031|
|14.||16||Arianna Casoli (54)||15||+ 1:16.357|
|15.||19||Zihara Esteban (22)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|16.||12||Mirco Schultis (70)||11||DNF (Mechanical)|
|17.||9||Naveh Talor (89)||10||DNF (Mechanical)|
|18.||10||Simon Pilate (6)||10||+ 5 Laps|
|19.||13||Giovanni Trione (31)||0||DNF (Collision)|
On Race 2, it was a peaceful day for Ghirelli at the front as he once again got the holeshot at the start and broke away from the field as hell broke loose on Turn 5 after Risitano collided with Doubek, sending the Czech driver into a spin that dropped him into the very back of the 19-car field.
With clear air in front of him, Ghirelli cruised away into his fourth consecutive win of 2020 – and his fifth career win in the series – ahead of Brigatti and Dauenhauer as the race ended under the Safety Car after two separate incidents involving the Mishumotors drivers Eric Quintal and Mirco Schultis.
“I was able to open a gap right at the beginning and I was comfortably leading this race,” said Ghirelli on his Race 2 performance. “I was very concentrated and tried to not stress the tires too much. It’s my fourth consecutive win and we’re really in a flow. We want to keep this momentum going and of course I’m dreaming about the big trophy, but it’s still a long way to go.”
While it’s an “easy” win for Ghirelli and second-place finisher Brigatti who also found a way past the pack at the start, it was a hectic race for the rest of the field. The ensuing spin for Doubek allowed Francesco Garisto to move up to 3rd place, but the persistent engine issue on the No. 48 HAMA Trucks Camaro crept up once again as Dylan Derdaele and Tobias Dauenhauer quickly found their way past the Italian before they got held up by Garisto’s ailing machine for too long.
Garisto’s ailing machine, combined with his aggressive driving style, proved to be a hindrance for the rest of the field as Julia Landauer experienced the hard way at the end of lap 3. Garisto left his braking point late when Landauer tried to pass him on the outside of Adrian Campos, sending both drivers wide into the tarmac run-off.
Despite this, the resulting bunch-up proved to be exciting as drivers from 5th all the way to 15th place was bunched up as a result of Garisto’s attempts to hold off the pack. The action was frantic with drivers going four-wide into the first corner and overtakes happened on practically all parts of Circuit Ricardo Tormo as they jostle around to gain the best finishing position that they can get.
Later in the race, a race-changing moment came when Dylan Derdaele got a drive-through penalty with four laps to go, presumably for exceeding the track limits too many times. As Derdaele exited the pits, Mirco Schultis collided with the rear end of the No. 98 Derdaele Mustang and the collision sent both drivers into the gravel trap. Schultis was out on the spot, while Derdaele was able to keep his car running and went on to claim an 8th place finish.
Just moments before this incident, Eric Quintal crashed the No. 33 Tigha Camaro on the exit of Bernat Martinez. Quintal was uninjured, but the two separate incidents meant that the Safety Car was called and with Garisto retiring his car on the ensuing Safety Car period, the officials opted to end the race under yellow to allow a safe retrieval for the three retiring cars.
Derdaele’s penalty meant that Doubek claimed fourth ahead of Landauer, who claimed her second Top 5 finish of the season. Simon Pilate tied his best finish of the season in 6th place ahead of the returning Naveh Talor, while Miura and Lintukanto closed out the Top 10.
Tziortzis had to take an unscheduled pit stop due to a puncture caused by a collision between him and Risitano on lap 2, while Risitano would eventually park his car in the pits from the numerous collision damage that the No. 12 NRG MED/O3 Sanity System Camaro suffered throughout the race.
Race 2 Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Vittorio Ghirelli (18)||15||28:55.253|
|2.||4||Alessandro Brigatti (8)||15||+ 1.071|
|3.||3||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||15||+ 1.742|
|4.||2||Martin Doubek (7)||15||+ 5.831|
|5.||13||Julia Landauer (11)||15||+ 6.223|
|6.||8||Simon Pilate (6)||15||+ 7.241|
|7.||11||Naveh Talor (89)||15||+ 7.695|
|8.||12||Dylan Derdaele (98)||15||+ 8.425|
|9.||9||Kenko Miura (99)||15||+ 9.592|
|10.||14||Leevi Lintukanto (10)||15||+ 10.407|
|11.||17||Evgeny Sokolovsky (46)||15||+ 11.098|
|12.||16||Zihara Esteban (22)||15||+ 12.289|
|13.||19||Giovanni Trione (31)||15||+ 13.735|
|14.||18||Arianna Casoli (54)||15||+ 14.428|
|15.||6||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|16.||10||Mirco Schultis (70)||11||DNF (Collision)|
|17.||7||Francesco Garisto (48)||11||DNF (Engine)|
|18.||15||Eric Quintal (33)||10||DNF (Accident)|
|19.||5||Nicholas Risitano (12)||9||DNF (Collision Damage)|
Ghirelli’s sweep meant that he now has a 26 points advantage over Tobias Dauenhauer in the championship standings coming to the double-points paying Finals. Brigatti and Tziortzis remains in third and fourth, 38 and 66 points behind Ghirelli respectively as Doubek and Landauer moved up to a joint-fifth in the standings with 224 points on their name.
With a maximum of 176 points to be earned in the next set of races at Valencia, mathematically every driver that sits behind Eric Quintal (14th, 143 points behind) in the standings is officially eliminated from the championship contention as they were now more than 176 points behind Ghirelli in the standings.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.