It’s the perfect day for Hendriks Motorsport’s No. 7 Orion Ford team on Saturday as Loris Hezemans and Martin Doubek conquered Qualifying and the first Race of the weekend to give Hendriks the perfect start for their triple championship aspirations.
Saturday’s running of NASCAR GP Spain at Circuit Ricardo Tormo was all about the Hendriks domination once more as Loris Hezemans and Martin Doubek, the drivers of Hendriks’ No. 7 Orion Ford team, conquered Qualifying and the first Race of the weekend to put themselves at the top coming to Sunday’s races.
The first Qualifying session of 2021 began after the day was started with Alon Day and Naveh Talor completing their 15-minute extra practice session that was given as a dispensation for their absence in Friday due to extraordinary circumstances. As the rules for Qualifying was reverted to the 2020 format on Thursday, this meant that the session was held as a 30-minute shootout with no Superpole and no championship points being awarded.
In EuroNASCAR PRO, it was Hezemans that timed his lap to the perfection after the 2019 champion set a lap time of 1:41.156 to put himself on pole for Race 1 later in the day, his fourth pole position in Euro Series.
“It was a little bit of a strategy play,” said Hezemans after the Qualifying session was completed. “We saw yesterday in Free Practice that the warmer the track was getting, the more the times was going up so we decided before the Qualifying that “Let’s go at the beginning when the track was at its coolest” and I tried to take advantage of that.”
While no other driver was able to get within 0.5 seconds of Hezemans’ pole times, Alon Day’s time of 1:41.832 was enough to put himself in second. Teammate Gianmarco Ercoli was third with a time of 1:41.849, while Nicolo Rocca was only 0.018 seconds behind the fellow Italian in fourth place.
Vittorio Ghirelli continues his impressive top class debut as he qualifies in fifth ahead of Thomas Ferrando, the highest of the two Academy Motorsport drivers while Giorgio Maggi claimed 7th despite having throttle issues. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen was eighth as the fastest of the Challenger Trophy drivers, while Fred Gabillon and the Shadow DNM8 of Luigi Ferrara completes the Top 10.
Jacques Villeneuve was only able to qualify in 11th ahead of Francesco Sini, while Lucas Lasserre had a strong improvement in Qualifying after he placed the No. 64 Pallas Ford in 13th place. Marc Goossens and Ulysse Delsaux completes the Top 15.
Dario Caso, Fabrizio Armetta, Andrea Nori, Davide Dallara, Henri Tuomaala, Patrick Lemarie, Evgeny Sokolovsky, Ian Eric Waden, and Bernardo Manfre completes the running order for the first Qualifying session of the weekend.
Full EuroNASCAR PRO Qualifying Result
|1.||Loris Hezemans (7)||1:41.156|
|2.||Alon Day (88)||1:41.832|
|3.||Gianmarco Ercoli (54)||1:41.849|
|4.||Nicolò Rocca (22)||1:41.867|
|5.||Vittorio Ghirelli (50)||1:42.169|
|6.||Thomas Ferrando (1)||1:42.345|
|7.||Giorgio Maggi (18)||1:42.435|
|8.||Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69)||1:42.439|
|9.||Frederic Gabillon (3)||1:42.472|
|10.||Luigi Ferrara (42)||1:42,726|
|11.||Jacques Villeneuve (5)||1:42.777|
|12.||Francesco Sini (12)||1:42.788|
|13.||Lucas Lasserre (64)||1:42.880|
|14.||Marc Goossens (77)||1:43.034|
|15.||Ulysse Delsaux (10)||1:43.180|
|16.||Dario Caso (8)||1:43.204|
|17.||Fabrizio Armetta (55)||1:43.648|
|18.||Andrea Nori (90)||1:43.689|
|19.||Davide Dallara (89)||1:43.977|
|20.||Henri Tuomaala (23)||1:44.091|
|21.||Patrick Lemarié (66)||1:44.121|
|22.||Evgeny Sokolovsky (8)||1:44.622|
|23.||Ian Eric Waden (44)||1:45.645|
|24.||Bernardo Manfré (17)||1:46.501|
EuroNASCAR 2’s Qualifying session begins not long after the top class drivers completed their Qualifying, but it didn’t take long until the session was interrupted after Paolo Valeri and Alina Loibnegger made contact at Aspar at around the 5 minute mark, bringing out the red flag after both drivers stopped at the side of the track.
The colission between the two rookies meant that their first Qualifying session in Euro Series was ended early, but Valeri’s time of 1:51.317 was enough to place him 21st on the grid. Loibnegger wasn’t so lucky as she hadn’t set a time just yet, but she would start the race on 22nd as Talor also failed to set a lap time due to mechanical gremlins on his No. 90 Not Only Motorsport Chevrolet.
After both of their cars was recovered, the session was continued and in the end Qualifying was dominated by the Hendriks drivers and Vladimiros Tziortzis, just like on Friday. This time, it was Martin Doubek that claimed the top spot after he set a lap time of 1:42.339, putting him ahead of Tziortzis by just 0.021 seconds.
“I’m so happy, first Qualifying and first pole position,” said Doubek after the session. “I have a really good teammate and we find a really good setup for this track. This is a really nice track, it’s a very hard track but we found a good setup and I think we will be in a really good condition.”
Dauenhauer was half a second behind the leading duo in third as the Shadow of Francesco Garisto made a huge impression on the Shadow’s debut week by qualifying fourth. Despite this, the superior pace of the leading trio was clear as Garisto’s best lap time in the Shadow DNM8 – 1:43.813 – was almost a full second behind Dauenhauer’s Hendriks Ford.
Pierluigi Veronesi qualified the Double V Racing Ford in fifth, just 0.018 seconds ahead of Advait Deodhar. The DF1 duo of Justin Kunz and Simon Pilate filled the fourth row of the grid as Armetta and Alberto Panebianco completes the Top 10, with Panebianco ranking as the highest rookie.
Max Lanza and Sokolovsky in the sixth row missed out on the Top 10 by just one tenths of a second as Michael Bleekemolen, Thomas Krasonis, and Waden completed the Top 15. Didier Bec is 16th ahead of Leevi Lintukanto, while Arianna Casoli had a strong day and qualified her CAAL Chevrolet in 18th place ahead of Miguel Gomes and Eric Quintal.
Full EuroNASCAR 2 Qualifying Result
|1.||Martin Doubek (7)||1:42.339|
|2.||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||1:42.360|
|3.||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||1:42.904|
|4.||Francesco Garisto (42)||1:43.813|
|5.||Pierluigi Veronesi (27)||1:43.929|
|6.||Avdait Deodhar (56)||1:43.947|
|7.||Justin Kunz (22)||1:43.989|
|8.||Simon Pilate (66)||1:44.027|
|9.||Fabrizio Armetta (55)||1:44.158|
|10.||Alberto Panebianco (89)||1:44.484|
|11.||Max Lanza (88)||1:44.501|
|12.||Evgeny Sokolovsky (48)||1:44.563|
|13.||Michael Bleekemolen (69)||1:44.609|
|14.||Thomas Krasonis (2)||1:44.879|
|15.||Ian Eric Waden (44)||1:45.194|
|16.||Didier Bec (10)||1:45.428|
|17.||Leevi Lintukanto (23)||1:45.916|
|18.||Arianna Casoli (54)||1:46.107|
|19.||Miguel Gomes (46)||1:47.027|
|20.||Eric Quintal (64)||1:47.636|
|21.||Paolo Valeri (8)||1:51.317|
|22.||Alina Loibnegger(12)||No Time|
|23.||Naveh Talor (90)||No Time|
The first race of the year begins at 14:00 local time as Hezemans and Day leads the field for the 18-lap race for the top class drivers. Day manages to get the jump on Hezemans on the run to Turn 1 as the Israeli claims the lead ahead of Hezemans, Rocca, Ercoli, and Ghirelli.
The race itself already had drama before the race even starts, however, as Armetta’s No. 55 Dinoil Camaro came into a halt on his out lap to the grid. The mechanical issue meant that he failed to started the race initially, but he managed to rejoin later on and ran 8 laps before he retired from the race.
Patrick Lemarie and Francesco Sini also failed to take the start, with Lemarie having engine issue and Sini still having his car repaired after Loibnegger’s Qualifying crash. Just like Armetta, both drivers would eventually rejoin the race and they would complete 6 and 7 laps respectively before they retired.
In the meantime, Day continues to lead the first few laps as Giorgio Maggi’s encountered issues again after he was seen to be running off-track on the 4th lap and he would eventually retire the car on the next lap.
It was on this very lap where Hezemans made the race-winning move as he got past Day on the first sector to claim the lead, with Gianmarco Ercoli also managed to find the room to get past the defending champion. As the battle for the lead heats up, Villeneuve quietly made up ground after he moved up to 6th place, having made a good start that launched up to 9th in the first lap.
Ercoli would eventually got past Day for 2nd on lap 13, but both drivers soon got the ire of the stewards for their excessive usage of the asphalt run-off. The excessive track limit violations soon resulted in them receiving a warning, but a further transgression meant that they would receive a 5-second time penalty added to their race result.
Lucas Lasserre, battling Villeneuve for 7th after the Canadian lose some pace on the second half of the race, also got hit with the time penalty as Gabillon was lucky to avoid a further penalty given he also received a warning for track limits.
At the front, Hezemans continued to set the pace for the field and he would eventually grab the checkered flag to score his eighth career victory in Euro Series.
“It was an eventful race and for sure a challenging one”, said Hezemans post-race to euronascar.com. “I thought I had a good start but Alon really pushed from second place. It was a great battle up front with Alon and also Gianmarco, who was incredibly fast.”
“It’s great to be back in Victory Lane and start the season on a high note with Hendriks Motorsport here at Valencia. I hope that I haven’t stressed the tires too much for the race tomorrow, but I’m confident that we can be at the front again in the second EuroNASCAR PRO race.”
Ercoli and Day crossed the line in second and third, but their penalties meant that they were demoted to third and fifth respectively. Nicolo Rocca was promoted to second while Thomas Ferrando got promoted to fourth having crossed the line in fourth and fifth respectively.
Ghirelli finished sixth after experiencing some mechanical issues mid-way through the race while JV was classified seventh after Lasserre’s penalty dropped him down to eighth. Goossens and Ferrara completes the Top 10.
RDV Competition once again experienced a rather torrid race as Gabillon and Delsaux could only finish in 11th and 13th respectively, both drivers losing around one second per lap to the leaders. Sandwiched by the two RDV drivers in 12th place is debutant Andrea Nori, who claimed both the win in Challenger Trophy and the bonus points for most positions gained.
Dallara, Tuomaala, Sokolovsky, Waden, and Manfre completes the running for the drivers that made it to the checkered flag. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen was forced to retire late in the race after running strongly in the Top 10, while Dario Caso also was forced to retire after completing 7 laps due to a mechanical issue.
Full EuroNASCAR PRO Race 1 Result
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Loris Hezemans (7)||18||31:20.474|
|2.||4||Nicolò Rocca (22)||18||+ 5.815|
|3.||3||Gianmarco Ercoli (54)||18||+ 6.7141|
|4.||6||Thomas Ferrando (1)||18||+ 8.096|
|5.||2||Alon Day (24)||18||+ 10.2561|
|6.||5||Vittorio Ghirelli (50)||18||+ 13.633|
|7.||11||Jacques Villeneuve (5)||18||+ 14.659|
|8.||13||Lucas Lasserre (33)||18||+ 18.7231|
|9.||14||Marc Goossens (77)||18||+ 24.775|
|10.||10||Luigi Ferrara (42)||18||+ 24.775|
|11.||9||Frederic Gabillon (3)||18||+ 25.665|
|12.||18||Andrea Nori (90)||18||+ 31.043|
|13.||15||Ulysse Delsaux (10)||18||+ 31.394|
|14.||19||Davide Dallara (89)||18||+ 40.913|
|15.||20||Henri Tuomaala (23)||18||+ 41.152|
|16.||22||Evgeny Sokolovsky (48)||18||+ 47.616|
|17.||23||Ian Eric Waden (44)||18||+ 1:00.267|
|18.||24||Bernardo Manfre (17)||18||+ 1:23.089|
|19.||8||Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69)||15||DNF (Mechanical)|
|20.||17||Fabrizio Armetta (55)||8||DNF (Mechanical)|
|21.||16||Dario Caso (8)||7||DNF (Mechanical)|
|22.||12||Francesco Sini (12)||7||DNF (Mechanical)|
|23.||21||Patrick Lemarie (66)||6||DNF (Mechanical)|
|24.||7||Giorgio Maggi (18)||5||DNF (Mechanical)|
1 Gianmarco Ercoli, Alon Day, and Lucas Lasserre received a 5-second time penalty for excessive track limit violations.
For the EuroNASCAR 2 race which began at approximately 17:00 local time, pole sitter Doubek had an excellent launch that puts the Czech in the lead for the opening lap as Tziortzis made a bad start and lost second place to Dauenhauer on the run to Aspar.
Francesco Garisto was forced to start from the pits after he failed to get out of the pits in time for the grid formation due to the stewards’ late examination on the changes done to the No. 42 Shadow DNM8 in between the races. Michael Bleekemolen, on the other hand, failed to make the start.
Just like Practice and Qualifying, the race at the front soon becomes a three-horse race between the two Hendriks drivers and Tziortzis. Tziortzis tries to make a move on Dauenhauer at Bernat Martinez on lap 3 and while he managed to make the move on the inside at Bernat Martinez, he was hung dry on the outside line for turn 11 and eventually had to relinquish the position back to Dauenhauer.
Dauenhauer and Tziortzis continues to battle each other for most of the race before Tziortzis got the move done on lap 11, this time after he made a good exit at Turn 6. Unfortunately for Tziortzis, his battle with Dauenhauer meant that Doubek was able to extend his lead to 2 seconds and Tziortzis would eventually ran out of laps to chase down Doubek as the Czech driver took the checkered flag with a winning gap of 1.399 seconds to complete the Hendriks No. 7 team sweep.
“I cannot say it was easy, from pole position it’s very good and I’m very happy,” said Doubek in the Victory Lane. “I think I have the fastest lap so I’ll be starting from pole position [for Race 2] and I hope it’ll be the same race as today.”
Pierluigi Veronesi enjoyed a quiet but successful race as he finished fourth on his return race to the sport. Late race drama for Advait Deodhar – who suffered throttle issues after a spin – and Simon Pilate – who spun off into the gravel at the final corner – would promote Max Lanza to 5th place.
Despite starting from last, Naveh Talor had an extremely impressive race as he climbed up to 6th place to gain himself the bonus points for most positions gained. Thomas Krasonis finished 7th to claim just his second Top-10 finish on his career, while the Shadow of Garisto finished 8th after his pre-race issues.
Alberto Panebianco finished 9th as the highest-finishing rookie driver as Sokolovsky completes the Top-10 in the Gulf Chevrolet. Finnish drivers Waden and Lintukanto was 11th and 12th while Arianna Casoli crosses the line in 13th to claim the Lady Trophy honors. Gomes, Quintal, and Loibnegger completes the runners that made it to the finish.
Deodhar was forced to retire on the final lap and was classified in 17th ahead of Pilate. Didier Bec also spun off late in the race after an overambitious attempt on overtaking Casoli, eventually classified in 19th ahead of Paolo Valeri who finished 7 laps down after an unscheduled mid-race repair stop.
Justin Kunz was classified 21st after he suffered a high-speed front-left tire failure on the front straight at the start of lap 7, with the force of the tire failure tearing off many of the car’s side body panels. Armetta was classified 22nd and last after yet another mechanical issue with the Dinoil Camaro.
Full EuroNASCAR 2 Race 1 Result
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Martin Doubek (7)||15||26:04.608|
|2.||2||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||15||+ 1.399|
|3.||4||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||15||+ 3.749|
|4.||5||Pierluigi Veronesi (27)||15||+ 15.838|
|5.||11||Max Lanza (88)||15||+ 32.097|
|6.||23||Naveh Talor (90)||15||+ 32.587|
|7.||14||Thomas Krasonis (2)||15||+ 33.847|
|8.||4||Francesco Garisto (42)||15||+ 38.301|
|9.||10||Alberto Panebianco (89)||15||+ 40.289|
|10.||11||Evgeny Sokolovsky (48)||15||+ 41.343|
|11.||15||Ian Eric Waden (44)||15||+ 43.344|
|12.||17||Leevi Lintukanto (23)||15||+ 53.231|
|13.||18||Arianna Casoli (54)||15||+ 1:11.866|
|14.||19||Miguel Gomes (46)||15||+ 1:21.829|
|15.||20||Eric Quintal (33)||15||+ 1:32.557|
|16.||22||Alina Loibnegger (12)||15||+ 1:36.153|
|17.||6||Advait Deodhar (56)||14||DNF (Mechanical)|
|18.||8||Simon Pilate (66)||12||DNF (Spun Off)|
|19.||16||Didier Bec (10)||11||DNF (Spun Off)|
|20.||21||Paolo Valeri (8)||8||+ 7 Laps|
|21.||7||Justin Kunz (22)||6||DNF (Tire)|
|22.||9||Fabrizio Armetta (55)||5||DNF (Mechanical)|
|23.||13||Michael Bleekemolen (69)||0||DNS (Did Not Start)|
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.