Stienes Longin will not be competing full-time in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series this year after it was announced by Autosport.be that he will be racing in the newly-established BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Benelux to race PK Carsport’s No. 11 Projob BMW M2 alongside Peter Guelinckx.
A new challenge awaits top Euro Series contender and former EuroNASCAR 2 champion Stienes Longin in 2021 after he announced on 22 March that he will be racing in the newly-established BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Benelux this year, as first reported by Autosport.be.
Stienes, who won the TCX class at 24 Hour of Dubai earlier this year, will continue to compete with PK Carsport on his new endeavors as he will be fighting for the title in PK’s No. 11 Projob BMW M2 CS Racing alongside Peter Guelinckx, CEO of Groep van Osch and one of Stienes’ teammate during the triumph at Dubai.
“Peter, through his role in Group van Osch and BMW Centrauto, is one of the biggest BMW distributors in the country”, said Stienes to Autosport.be on his teammate Peter Guelinckx. “He doesn’t have a whole lot ofexperience in autosport and preferred to contest a full season, which made us opt for the BMW M2 Racing Cup Benelux.”
BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Benelux itself is a newly-established championship introduced by BMW as an initiative to introduce a championship for gentlemen drivers or young karting talents that wanted to make a step into racing. Using the BMW M2 CS Racing as the car of choice, the one-make racing series was introduced this year alongside their sister series’ BMW M2 Cup, BMW M2 CS Racing Cup NLS, and BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Italy.
The inaugural season of BMW M2 Cup Benelux will feature a five-round calendar on famous tracks in the region such as Zolder, Zandvoort, and Spa-Francorchamps. Each round will feature three races, two 30-minute sprint races and one 55-minute endurance race that requires a mandatory pit stop, and the championship will provide its competitors with a prize pool of €50,000.
“The combination of sprint races and an endurance race provides Peter with the ideal opportunity to learn,” continued Stienes to Autosport.be. “Don’t misunderstand me though, we are aiming for the title. In the Dubai 24H we’ve proved that we can be competitive and now we want to build on that for a full season. The car is true racer and I expect to see spectacular races.”
The report from Autosport.be reveals that Stienes’ decision to switch to BMW M2 Cup Benelux this year is driven by concerns of possible travel restrictions, as his sponsors wanted to limit their travelling for the year due to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
The risk of travel restriction and uncertainties on how the pandemic situation evolves is something that Stienes had seen the effects in the 2020 Euro Series season, from the season being delayed by nearly half a year to the last-minute introduction of the round at Rijeka – a round where Stienes won last year – as a result of new restrictions imposed in October due to a major spike in cases.
In addition, two of his teammates at PK Carsport last year – eventual series champion Alon Day and Julia Landauer, who hails from Israel and United States respectively – had to temporarily live in Belgium once the season started to avoid the risk of locking themselves out due to the restrictions.
Everyone who supported us in the past is onboard again now,” explains Stienes’ father Bert to Autosport.be. “All those people really want to see races in person again, something that was hardly possible last year.”
“The situation should improve this year, but to avoid travel issues – you never know how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve – the majority of our partners indicated they’d like to limit their travel. That’s why we opted to contest a Benelux championship in 2021. Zolder, Zandvoort and Spa are easy to reach by car and at the end of the day we can simply drive home again.
While this does mean that Stienes is not going to compete in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series this year, Stienes expects to make a full-time comeback to Euro next year. He also revealed that he plans to be racing at Zolder to prepare himself for the upcoming 2022 season.
“Let’s make it clear that we’re not stepping away from the [Euro Series] championship though”, explains Stienes on his future in Euro Series to Autosport.be. “We will be contesting the season finals in October, the NASCAR American Festival in Zolder. That’s also an ideal way to prepare the 2022 season. But first, time to focus on the BMW M2 CS Racing Cup Benelux!”
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of Stienes Longin / NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.