In a historic EuroNASCAR Finals that saw history being made by the likes of Vladimiros Tziortzis and Julia Landauer, Hendriks Motorsport’s Vittorio Ghirelli successfully claimed the EuroNASCAR 2 title after he dominated the second Finals race to claim the title from teammate Tobias Dauenhauer.
In his second season in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ EuroNASCAR 2 class, Vittorio Ghirelli has claimed the EuroNASCAR 2 title after he dominated the second Finals race at Circuit Ricardo Tormo to claim the title by just 6 points from teammate Tobias Dauenhauer.
It wasn’t an easy Finals weekend for Ghirelli however, as an engine failure in the first Finals race on Saturday allowed Dauenhauer to not only grab the win in the first Finals race, but also allowed him to overtake the Italian in the championship standings heading to the Sunday Finals race.
“It was a tough race, starting from P9 but there was no other result” said Ghirelli in the Victory Lane after he clinched the title. “I wanted to go, so I just went for it every lap, pushing like hell, and the car was perfect.”
“Yesterday after the engine blew up, I was P2 in the championship and lost all the job I did from lap 1. Congratulations also to my teammate because he pushed me very hard and he’s a very good driver. I’m very happy, thanks to all my sponsors, my family, and all the person that supported me every day.”
The first Finals race saw the two main championship contenders Dauenhauer and Ghirelli taking the green flag from the first row of the grid as Dylan Derdaele climbed up to third from sixth at the start, albeit after he collided with Alessandro Brigatti at Nico Terol.
The collision, coupled with an unsafe rejoin from Brigatti on the next corner, caused several issues for the drivers as Martin Doubek, Naveh Talor, and Evgeny Sokolovsky all went to the pits at the end of lap 1 after contacts that resulted in damage or puncture to their cars. Doubek retired immediately in the pits while Talor and Sokolovsky changed their tires and rejoined the race.
Up front, Francesco Garisto and Vladimiros Tziortzis joins the battle for third as Garisto overtakes Derdaele at Aspar on lap 2, albeit not without drama as the two collided, resulting in a piece of Derdaele’s fiberglass front bumper getting stuck in Garisto’s No. 48 HAMA Trucks Camaro.
Tziortzis and Julia Landauer also went by Derdaele not long after, with Tziortzis getting the job done at Nico Terol while Landauer went past the Belgian after Derdaele collided with Nicholas Risitano, sending the Italian into a spin at Turn 13.
Ghirelli, who had to stop his car late in Qualifying due to engine issues, then began his slow descent to the back of the field on lap 3 after the engine in the No. 18 Infitto.eu/Lucerne Watches Ford Mustang started to act up. Garisto and Tziortzis went past Ghirelli on lap 3 and many drivers would also get by the Italian before the engine blew with three laps to go.
Garisto, with Derdaele’s front bumper still attached on his rear bumper, and Tziortzis then had a fantastic scrap for second that went on for several laps before he received a drive-through penalty with 5 laps to go for a start procedure infringement late in the race. The penalty messes up Garisto’s rhythm, as he later crashed his car at Bernat Martinez when trying to regain the places he had lost.
Garisto’s penalty moved Landauer up to third place, but no one would catch Dauenhauer in the end as he went on to score a crucial win at Valencia to give himself the advantage coming to the Sunday finals race.
After several near misses with the podium and Top 5’s before, Tziortzis finally managed to get the job done as he secured a career-best second place finish to score a historic first ever podium finish for both him and Cyprus in NASCAR.
“Finally, we achieved it with a second place today,” said Tziortzis, who also scored Alex Caffi Motorsport’s first podium finish since 2018. “We’re in the pace for the Top 3 during the weekend, but we didn’t manage to keep the place. Today, however, we somehow managed to keep the place and we finished second.”
Finishing third is Julia Landauer, who had built an advantage large enough to fend off the charging Pilate in the end. The 3rd place finish meant that Landauer not only broke her record of the highest finishing female driver in a EuroNASCAR 2 race that she had set at Zolder 1, it also marked the first overall podium finish for a female driver in Euro Series in the NASCAR era since Carole Perrin’s sole podium at Spa in 2012.
Crucially, Landauer also scored the extra 8 points for most positions gained, allowing her to overtake Tziortzis and placed her in 4th place in the championship standings heading to the Sunday Finals race.
“Finally on the podium, it feels so good!” said Landauer in the post-race interview. “The race was very good, it was eventful on the first couple of laps but luckily we got to avoid a lot of that and then it was just about hitting the marks and trying to catch the guys in second and third.”
“I caught up with them and there’s a drive-through penalty (for Garisto) so we’re in third and then it got it got a little scary with two or three laps to go when there’s oil on the track and didn’t quite know how to get through that safely, but we did, brought it home in one piece, and get onto the podium finally!”
Pilate still scored a career-best fourth place finish as Risitano recovered from his early spin to finish in 5th place. Brigatti initially finished 6th, but the unsafe rejoin resulted in a 15-second time penalty that dropped him to 8th, promoting Legend Trophy winner Kenko Miura and Mirco Schultis into a 6th and 7th place finish, their best finishes of 2020.
Derdaele was classified 9th as Garisto managed to recover from his crash at Bernat Martinez to finish in 10th place. CAAL Racing teammates Giovanni Trione and Arianna Casoli finished 11th and 12th as the last cars still in the lead lap.
Eric Quintal, Zihara Esteban, and Sokolovsky finished a lap down as Ghirelli’s engine failure left him classified in 16th. Leevi Lintukanto retired with mechanical issues with 5 laps to go and Talor – who retired after 5 laps – and Doubek was classified as the last two finishers.
Finals 1 Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||15||28:55.328|
|2.||3||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||15||+ 8.003|
|3.||10||Julia Landauer (11)||15||+ 16.766|
|4.||7||Simon Pilate (6)||15||+ 18.788|
|5.||9||Nicholas Risitano (12)||15||+ 34.088|
|6.||12||Kenko Miura (99)||15||+ 35.033|
|7.||13||Mirco Schultis (70)||15||+ 39.192|
|8.||4||Alessandro Brigatti (8)||15||+ 40.9981|
|9.||6||Dylan Derdaele (98)||15||+ 42.1412|
|10.||8||Francesco Garisto (48)||15||+ 1:05.763|
|11.||17||Giovanni Trione (31)||15||+ 1:14.002|
|12.||18||Arianna Casoli (54)||15||+ 1:24.503|
|13.||19||Eric Quintal (33)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|14.||16||Zihara Esteban (22)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|15.||14||Evgeny Sokolovsky (46)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|16.||2||Vittorio Ghirelli (18)||11||DNF (Engine)|
|17.||15||Leevi Lintukanto (10)||10||DNF (Mechanical)|
|18.||11||Naveh Talor (89)||5||DNF (Collision Damage)|
|19.||5||Martin Doubek (7)||1||DNF (Collision)|
1 Alessandro Brigatti originally finished 5th, but he received a 15-second time penalty for an unsafe rejoin.
2 Dylan Derdaele originally finished 8th, but he received a 5-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Alessandro Brigatti.
For the second race, Dauenhauer would start the race from pole while Ghirelli had to play catch-up from 9th on the grid. After the green flag was waved, Ghirelli made a fantastic start and climbed up to 4th at the end of the first lap when the Safety Car was called due to a collision in the pack that took out Dylan Derdaele.
Once the was restarted on lap 6, Ghirelli quickly was on the charge as he quickly went past Tziortzis and Risitano, albeit it wasn’t without a controversy as he went wide to the tarmac run-off to get past Tziortzis.
A lap later, Ghirelli caught up to the tail of Dauenhauer’s Mustang and with Dauenhauer’s engine starting to act up, Ghirelli finds a way to get past the German on the inside of Doohan on lap 8 to grab the lead and ultimately the championship.
With Ghirelli in clear air and Dauenhauer struggling with his engine, Ghirelli quickly broke away from the field. His pace is so strong that he managed to overcome a 10-second post-race time penalty from the pass on Tziortzis to ultimately win by 4.910 seconds after the penalties were applied.
Dauenhauer’s engine ultimately would allow Risitano and Tziortzis to get past him to claim the podium finishing positions for the last EuroNASCAR 2 race of the season. He did, however, managed to fend off Brigatti as he claims 4th ahead of Brigatti in 5th with Pilate and Naveh Talor finishing 6th and 7th respectively, all four separated by only one second at the line.
Martin Doubek ends his 2020 season in 8th place after ramming into Garisto in the restart, which was done single-file instead of the usual double-file restarts. Lintukanto secured a career-best 9th place finish ahead of Landauer, who recovered to 10th after she had an off at Aspar on lap 7.
Garisto finished 11th ahead of teammate Sokolovsky, who claimed the win in the Legend Trophy classifications. Miura, Casoli, and Quintal closes out the Top 15 as Zihara Esteban once again ran into trouble and finished in 16th place, one lap down from Ghirelli.
Mirco Schultis also finished in 17th after a rather eventful race. Schultis made an unscheduled pit stop early in the race and was trying to unlap himself when he collided with Giovanni Trione, taking the younger Trione out of the race.
Finals 2 Results
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||9||Vittorio Ghirelli (18)||15||28:58.4841|
|2.||4||Nicholas Risitano (12)||15||+ 4.910|
|3.||2||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||15||+ 5.119|
|4.||1||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||15||+ 7.336|
|5.||3||Alessandro Brigatti (8)||15||+ 7.609|
|6.||6||Simon Pilate (6)||15||+ 7.876|
|7.||8||Naveh Talor (89)||15||+ 8.188|
|8.||18||Martin Doubek (7)||15||+ 9.908|
|9.||11||Leevi Lintukanto (10)||15||+ 23.054|
|10.||5||Julia Landauer (11)||15||+ 43.770|
|11.||192||Francesco Garisto (48)||15||+ 45.825|
|12.||14||Evgeny Sokolovsky (46)||15||+ 46.272|
|13.||7||Kenko Miura (99)||15||+ 46.379|
|14.||16||Arianna Casoli (54)||15||+ 49.215|
|15.||17||Eric Quintal (33)||15||+ 52.664|
|16.||15||Zihara Esteban (22)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|17.||10||Mirco Schultis (70)||14||+ 1 Lap|
|18.||12||Giovanni Trione (31)||12||DNF (Collision)3|
|19.||13||Dylan Derdaele (98)||0||DNF (Collision)4|
1 Vittorio Ghirelli received a 10-second time penalty for overtaking Vladimiros Tziortzis outside of track limits.
2 Francesco Garisto started from the back of the grid after stewards penalized him for committing multiple infractions in Finals 1.
3 Giovanni Trione received two drive-through penalties that was turned into two 30-second time penalties and one 15-second time penalty for start procedure infringements, although it didn’t affect his final results.
4 Dylan Derdaele received a drive-through penalty, but didn’t taken it as he retired before he was able to do the penalty.
The conclusion of the Finals at Valencia confirms Ghirelli as the champion with 419 points, 5 wins, 7 podiums and 9 Top-10 finishes. Dauendaher finished second as the best rookie driver of the year with 413 points, 3 wins, 8 podiums, and 9 Top-10 finishes. Despite not scoring a single race win, Alessandro Brigatti’s 4 podiums and 9 Top-10 finishes was enough to secure him third place with 379 points on his name.
Vladimiros Tziortzis brought home joy for Cyprus as 2 podiums and 8 Top-10 finishes was enough to secure 4th in the standings, while Julia Landauer makes history as the first female driver to crack the Top 5 in the overall standings for Euro Series’ two main classes. With 1 podium and 7 Top-10 finishes, it was enough for Landauer to secure both the Lady Trophy and 5th place in the overall standings.
Nicholas Risitano scored five podiums, but the removal of his points from Zolder 2 for the multi-car pile-up he caused ultimately costed him a Top 5 finish in the overall standings while Martin Doubek finished 7th in the standings despite missing Vallelunga after he was tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the season opening round. Derdaele, Garisto, and Pilate completes the Top 10 in the overall standings. Arianna Casoli finished 11th in the standings as the winner of Legend Trophy.
Doubek’s two race wins, coupled with Ghirelli’s five and Dauenhauer’s three, affirms Hendriks Motorsport’s dominance in the EuroNASCAR 2 class this year. Every single race win, pole position, and fastest lap award in EN2 all went to a Hendriks Motorsport driver this year. They also become the first team to sweep the podium finishing positions on Race 2 at Rijeka.
Hendriks’ performance in 2020 is so dominant that had Dylan Derdaele didn’t get past Doubek to grab the lead for a few laps through a lucky tire choice in the second Zolder race, Hendriks Motorsport drivers would lead every single lap of the 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 season. The Hendriks domination in 2020’s EuroNASCAR 2 season truly is something that is incredibly unlikely to ever be topped in the future.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard / Bart Dehaese.