Solaris Motorsport begins their 2021 season on a rather up and down note as a tricky weekend for the No. 12 team of Francesco Sini and Alina Loibnegger wasn’t indicative of the team’s pace potential that was shown in the allied No. 27 car of Pierluigi Veronesi.
“A continuous swing of emotions” is how Solaris Motorsport described their performance on last week’s NASCAR GP Spain after problems prevented Solaris from achieving a better result given the pace potential that was shown by both the No. 12 Camaro and the allied No. 27 Double V Racing Ford of Pierluigi Veronesi.
“The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season opener held in Valencia offered great emotions to the Solaris Motorsport fans,” said the team on their post-Valencia press release. “The Pescara-based team experienced a continuous swing of emotions during the Spanish event. If luck had up and downs, good performances had been the constant.”
Team leader Francesco Sini experienced the toughest weekend of the Solaris drivers during thw weekend at Valencia. The weekend started well for Sini after he finished 10th in the combined Practice timesheets and qualified 12th on Qualifying, but Alina Loibnegger’s qualifying crash meant that Sini would be forced to miss the start of Race 1 as Solaris team members was still working on repairs to the No. 12 Camaro.
Eventually, the team was able to complete their repairs in time for Sini to rejoin the race and “Ringhio”, as he was affectionately called, was able to complete 7 laps before he retired the car mere seconds before Loris Hezemans took the checkered flag. Despite being only classified in 22nd place, Sini’s fastest lap time was enough to secure himself an 11th place grid spot for Sunday’s Race 2.
Race 2 went a lot better initially as Sini was able to race himself to the Top 10 positions, running at a pace that rivals those of the top runners. Unfortunately, a tire failure with just two laps to go would cause an accident that eliminated Sini from the race.
“Sini started for a full attack race on Sunday, offering a stunning show and lots of overtakes for all NASCAR fans,” said the team on Sini’s Race 2 performance. “The exciting comeback was stopped by a technical tire failure when “Ringhio” was fighting to enter the Top-5 with a really thrilling racing performance.”
For Alina Loibnegger, it was a learning experience for the Austrian driver as the Valencia race marked her debut in the two main divisions of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. While a collision with Vict Motorsport’s Paolo Valeri ended her Qualifying early and caused the issues that Sini would encounter in his first race, Loibnegger showed solid pace improvements over the course of the weekend and she would come home with two Top-20 finishes and two podiums in the Lady Trophy sub-classification.
“It has been a great weekend in Valencia with the guys of Solaris Motorsport,” said Loibnegger on the press release. “I felt immediately comfortable with the team and I can’t wait to be back on track in Brands Hatch. I would like to thank everyone for the support!”
Despite the tough weekend for both Sini and Loibnegger, Solaris’ pace was undoubtedly fast as showcased by the No. 27 Double V Racing Ford of Pierluigi Veronesi, who received technical support from Solaris. Veronesi would bring home a double Top-5 result and he currently sits in fourth place in the EuroNASCAR 2 standings, demonstrating the pace potential that Solaris could achieve in NASCAR GP Spain.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese.