Alon Day concludes the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title with confirmation of his record-tying third championship title after securing his 24th career victory in the first Finals Race before finishing 4th in the second Finals Race to claim the title by 20 points over closest championship rival Lasse Sørensen.
The strange, wild, and unpredictable 2020 Whelen Euro Series season ended yesterday as PK Carsport’s Alon Day secured a record-tying third championship title in EuroNASCAR after finishing first and fourth in the two Finals race at Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Day dominated in the first Finals race as he fended off the early pressure from outgoing champion Loris Hezemans to secure his 24th career Euro Series victory by 5.303 series over his closest championship rival Lasse Sørensen.
The results of the first Finals race meant that Day can take it relatively easy for the second Finals race because the 2020 title is his as long as Day finished 9th or better. In the end, Day finished the attrition-filled season ending race in 4th place to secure his third Euro Series championship title.
“I have no words!” said a visibly exhausted Day after winning the title. “You know, 2020 was such a hard year for me when I decided to leave everything in Israel and coming to Belgium to live next to PK’s workshop. Dedication was enough to win the championship I guess!”
“It was such a hard time, living alone and with the lockdown and everything that’s going on in Europe was really, really tough physically and especially mentally and this weekend was one of the most demanding weekends I’ve ever had in my life. We made it, we made it, PK made it!”
“I owe everything for them and my mechanics, my engineers, Anthony (Kumpen, ex-Euro Series double champion and PK Carsport team owner), everybody! I’m a happy boy right now and I’m finally going home!”
The first race started with Day keeping the lead from Hezemans at the start as the Safety Car was called after 4 laps. Stienes Longin unexpectedly retired after only three corners and he parked his No. 11 Projob Camaro in a precarious position on the side of the track. This incident, coupled with Mauro Trione having a tire blew on him, either on its own or due to effects of contact, forced the Safety Car to be called.
Once the Safety Car was recalled on lap 6, Hezemans quickly tried to pressured Day into making a mistake, but with eight laps to go his gearbox became stuck in third gear. This ultimately proved to be his downfall in the championship hunt as he slowly slipped away through the pack and would eventually finish the race in 12th place.
“We’re basically stuck in third gear,” said Hezemans as he explains the gearbox issue on Finals Race 1 after he won the season-ending Finals Race 2 several hours later. “The shifter itself had been disengaged from the gearbox, so we knew that pretty much it was over (for the championship) but it was going to be a tough ask because we’re trailing quite a bit, but we gave it our all.”
With Hezemans’ challenge ended earlier than expected, the driver of the No. 24 car Day cruised on to win his 24th career victory as Lasse Sørensen finished 2nd after initial 2nd place finisher Olivier Hart was penalized for excessive track limit violations. Lucas Lasserre was promoted to third due to Hart’s penalty and secured the bonus points for most positions gained that’ll be vital for his championship position.
Gianmarco Ercoli and Marc Goossens finished 4th and 5th respectively as Giorgio Maggi claimed 6th place, his best finish since the podium at Rijeka. Justin Kunz finished 7th ahead of the penalized Hart, while Davide Dallara finished 9th to claim yet another victory in the Challenger Trophy with Francesco Sini finishing in the Top 10.
Nicolò Rocca, who had to start from last after his Qualifying time was removed due to track limit violations, was running as high as 7th when his right-front tire blew with just two laps to go, necessitating a trip to the pits to change his tires.
Thomas Ferrando also made an unscheduled stop due to mechanical issues in the Alex Caffi Motorsport No. 1 car while Ander Vilariño suffered yet another engine issue in the No. 48 DF1-MSM Camaro. Mechanical issues also forced Alberto Panebianco to retire while Mauro Trione retired his car after a second visit to the pits on his 9th lap.
Finals 1 Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Alon Day (24)||18||33:06.716|
|2.||11||Lasse Sørensen (66)||18||+ 5.303|
|3.||15||Lucas Lasserre (33)||18||+ 5.750|
|4.||10||Gianmarco Ercoli (54)||18||+ 7.261|
|5.||7||Marc Goossens (98)||18||+ 7.474|
|6.||4||Giorgio Maggi (18)||18||+ 8.662|
|7.||12||Justin Kunz (99)||18||+ 12.7391|
|8.||6||Olivier Hart (7)||18||+ 15.0132|
|9.||8||Davide Dallara (89)||18||+ 15.013|
|10.||13||Francesco Sini (12)||18||+ 22.748|
|11.||16||Dario Caso (8)||18||+ 25.723|
|12.||2||Loris Hezemans (50)||18||+ 46.195|
|13.||14||Patrick Lemarié (6)||18||+ 50.793|
|14.||19||Evgeny Sokolovsky (46)||18||+ 54.197|
|15.||20||Nicolò Rocca (22)||17||+ 1 Lap|
|16.||9||Thomas Ferrando (1)||15||+ 3 Laps|
|17.||18||Ander Vilariño (48)||10||DNF (Mechanical)|
|18.||17||Alberto Panebianco (10)||9||DNF (Mechanical)|
|19.||18||Mauro Trione (31)||9||DNF (Mechanical)|
|20.||3||Stienes Longin (11)||0||DNF (Mechanical)|
1 Justin Kunz received a 2-second time penalty for excessive track limit violations.
2 Olivier Hart originally finished 2nd, but he received a 10-second time penalty for excessive track limit violations.
In the second race, once again it was Day that started the race from the pole as Mirco Schultis unexpectedly entered the race in his No. 70 Geigercars Camaro. He went on to finish in 10th and celebrated Christmas early in the Challenger Trophy podium, but he didn’t score any points because of how late he entered the race.
The race itself turned into an attrition-filled race, as showcased on the second lap when Ercoli, trying to recover from his shockingly poor start, crashed into Mauro Trione at Aspar. Ercoli was out of the spot and was later seen to be sitting with both of his hands on his helmet due to disbelief in the live broadcast.
When the race restarted on Lap 6, Giorgio Maggi had a sudden twitch at Doohan that sent his car into the path of Stienes Longin and Thomas Ferrando. Maggi retired on the spot, while Stienes and Ferrando managed to rejoin the race. Ferrando went on to finish 6th, while the collision damage proved to be too much for Stienes as he parked his car in the second sector on his 13th lap.
Two laps later, Goossens experienced a drivetrain issue that saw him went off twice in the same lap, first at Bernat Martinez and later in Turn 11. Goossens eventually brought the car to the pits to retire his car while on the same lap, Hart and Vilariño had also brought their car into the pits after the engine on their cars blew.
Dario Caso had been poised to score his first Top-10 finish in five years when Justin Kunz rammed into the FEED Vict co-owner at Aspar, sending Caso into a retirement after his car got stuck in the gravel trap. Kunz was able to continue, but he unsurprisingly received a drive-through penalty for the collision with Caso.
Up front, Day lost the lead in the restart when Hezemans and Sørensen successfully made a lunge at Aspar. Nicolò Rocca, who had charged through the pack after the restart, also went past the Israeli at Aspar on lap 12, but Day knew that as long as he didn’t make a mistake that led to his retirement from the race, he would be in the position to win the title.
In the end, it was Hezemans that won the attrition-filled race by 2.787 seconds from Sørensen, with Rocca finishing third for his only podium finish of 2020.
Fourth is enough for Day to clinch the title and became the first recipient of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ new championship trophy, which was made by Tijey and hugely resembles the Bill France Cup used by the NASCAR Cup Series.
Francesco Sini secured a season-best 5th place finish ahead of the recovering Ferrando. Lucas Lasserre finished 7th ahead of Davide Dallara, who successfully clinched the overall win in Challenger Trophy after securing his career-best finish.
It was a remarkable journey for Dallara this year as he wasn’t supposed to compete in the PRO class initially. A last-minute switch after Fabio Spatafora proved to be way off the pace allowed Dallara to show his speed in the series and ultimately allowed him to beat a one-race deficit after his DNS at Vallelunga 2 to win the Challenger Trophy trophy.
Patrick Lemarié also secured a career-best 9th place finish ahead of Schultis, with Sokolovsky and Kunz rounding out the finishers for the final race of the season.
Mauro Trione, who eventually brought his car to the pits to retire after completing 7 laps, completed the final race of his career yesterday after he announced on his Facebook page hours after the Finals ended that he will be retiring from the sport.
Mauro revealed that he had promised to his wife that the races at Valencia Super Speedweek would be the last of his career and ended his three-year stint in Euro Series by sneakily attacking the fellow Challenger Trophy drivers with champagne spray during the season-ending podium ceremony.
Finals 2 Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||2||Loris Hezemans (50)||18||33:07.782|
|2.||4||Lasse Sørensen (66)||18||+ 2.787|
|3.||5||Nicolò Rocca (22)||18||+ 3.586|
|4.||1||Alon Day (24)||18||+ 7.732|
|5.||14||Francesco Sini (12)||18||+ 11.514|
|6.||6||Thomas Ferrando (1)||15||+ 11.990|
|7.||10||Lucas Lasserre (33)||18||+ 15.4871|
|8.||122||Davide Dallara (89)||18||+ 24.115|
|9.||14||Patrick Lemarié (6)||18||+ 27.651|
|10.||212||Mirco Schultis (70)||18||+ 35.563|
|11.||19||Evgeny Sokolovsky (46)||18||+ 55.441|
|12.||11||Justin Kunz (99)||18||+ 1:17.841|
|13.||20||Stienes Longin (11)||12||DNF (Collision Damage)3|
|14.||15||Dario Caso (8)||9||DNF (Collision)|
|15.||132||Ander Vilariño (48)||8||DNF (Mechanical)|
|16.||9||Olivier Hart (7)||8||DNF (Engine)|
|17.||8||Marc Goossens (98)||8||DNF (Drivetrain)|
|18.||16||Mauro Trione (31)||7||DNF (Mechanical)3|
|19.||3||Giorgio Maggi (18)||5||DNF (Collision)3|
|20.||7||Gianmarco Ercoli (54)||1||DNF (Collision)3|
|21.||18||Alberto Panebianco (10)||0||DNS (Did Not Start)|
1 Lucas Lasserre received a 2-second time penalty for excessive track limit violations.
2 Davide Dallara, Mirco Schultis, and Ander Vilariño all initially started the race from the pit lane. Stewards would allow all three to take a grid spot on the back of the field for the start.
3 Stienes Longin, Mauro Trione, Giorgio Maggi, and Gianmarco Ercoli had a 30-second time penalty applied as a equivalent of a drive-through penalty, although it didn’t affect their final positions in the end.
The 2020 champion Alon Day would finish the season with 431 points, 4 wins, 6 podiums, and a perfect 10 out of 10 record for Top-10 finishes. DF1’s Danish superstar Sørensen closes out his rookie season in second place with 411 points, 2 wins, 6 podiums, and 9 Top-10 finishes while outgoing champion Hezemans ends his 2020 season campaign in third place with 2 wins and 5 podiums on his name.
Lucas Lasserre’s bonus points in Finals Race 1 allowed him to claim 4th place in the championship with 356 points and 3 podium finishes. A double podium allowed Marc Goossens to claim 5th in his first full-season campaign in EuroNASCAR, while Ercoli’s early retirement and 10-point penalty from Vallelunga Race 2 ultimately demoted him to 6th place in the overall standings.
Seven Top-10 finishes allowed Francesco Sini to claim a career-best 7th place finish in the standings with Stienes, Rocca, and Kunz completed the Top 10. Davide Dallara, the leading Challenger Trophy driver of the season, completes his unexpected full-season campaign in 12th place while Mauro Trione claimed a career-best 13th place in the final season of his career.
If Alon Day’s 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season can be summed up in as few words as possible, it’ll be “Record Breaker” as Day broke many of Ander Vilariño’s long-standing superlative records in the series.
Day first broke Vilariño’s records when he got his 25th career pole position in the first Valencia race to break Vilariño’s record of 24 pole positions. His victory in the second Valencia race not only broke Vilariño’s all-time wins record, he also broke Vilariño’s record for the most fastest laps award in the series as he secured his 25th fastest lap award in the same race and of course, his championship triumph in the Finals places him alongside Vilariño as the drivers with the most championship title in Euro Series history.
What is sure from Day’s record-breaking journey this season is that when the time comes for Day to hang up his racing helmet and retire from the sport, he’ll be remembered as one of the Greatest of All Time in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard / Bart Dehaese / Sofric Studio.