History was made on the Saturday’s running of American SpeedFest 8 as EuroNASCAR 2 driver Advait Deodhar claimed both pole position and the victory in Race 1 to become India’s first EuroNASCAR pole sitter and race winner as Alon Day claimed the 25th career victory of his career in the PRO class race.
Saturday’s running of American SpeedFest 8 proved to be a historic day for NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as Advait Deodhar claimed a historic pole position and first career victory in the EuroNASCAR 2 division while Alon Day returns back to the top step of the podium in the top EuroNASCAR PRO class.
The day started off on a drastically different note compared to Friday’s Practice sessions. While Practice was done on the dry conditions, an overnight rain that fell down on the circuit meant that the track was damp when the green flag was waved for EuroNASCAR PRO’s Qualifying session. Given the unfavorable track conditions, many driver opted to stay in the pits as they waited for the track to dry up further to set their lap times in the race.
Top class rookie driver Vittorio Ghirelli was the initial pace setter as he became the first driver to broke the sub 51-second lap time and the sub 50-second lap time mark, eventually ending up with a benchmark time of 49.580. With approximately 16 minutes to go in the session, the drivers that initially stayed in the pits – including championship favorites Loris Hezemans, Alon Day, and Gianmarco Ercoli – all decided to go out to the track to start their Qualifying runs.
The session then quickly heats up as the drivers quickly began to pump in some fast lap time on the improving conditions. Day was the first to strike with a time of 49.434 before teammate Ercoli betters it up not long after with a time of 49.405. Championship leader Hezemans strikes back soon, however, as the Dutchman bettered up Hezemans’ time with a time of 49.155 before he went even better with a time of exactly 49 seconds.
Amazingly, Day then broke the 49-second barrier after he set a lap time exactly 0.001 seconds faster than Hezemans on his 11th qualifying lap. He then went better on the next qualifying lap with a time of 48.903, and it’s this time that would give Day his first pole position of the season – and the 29th of his career.
Hezemans would slot himself in the front row of the grid as Nicolo Rocca and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen put themselves on the second row. Ercoli was fifth ahead of Ghirelli while Alexander Graff continued to impress with a 7th place result in Qualifying. Alex Sedgwick, Frederic Gabillon, and Giorgio Maggi completes the Top 10 while Henri Tuomaala was the fastest of the Challenger Trophy drivers in 14th place.
The session was stopped with just 1 minute left on the clock after Igor Romanov spun his car at the Cooper Straight, resulting in his car getting stuck on the gravel trap at the edge of the circuit. The Ukrainian driver, who was making his top class debut as the replacement for Andrea Nori, was eventually classified as the last-place qualifier in the grid.
Full EuroNASCAR PRO Qualifying Result
|1.||Alon Day (88)||48.903|
|2.||Loris Hezemans (7)||49.000|
|3.||Nicolò Rocca (22)||49.292|
|4.||Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69)||49.351|
|5.||Gianmarco Ercoli (54)||49.389|
|6.||Vittorio Ghirelli (50)||49.466|
|7.||Alexander Graff (44)||49.475|
|8.||Alex Sedgwick (24)||49.502|
|9.||Frederic Gabillon (3)||49.504|
|10.||Giorgio Maggi (18)||49.565|
|11.||Ulysse Delsaux (10)||49.570|
|12.||Marc Goossens (77)||49.610|
|13.||Lucas Lasserre (64)||49.838|
|14.||Henri Tuomaala (23)||49.960|
|15.||Simon Pilate (66)||50.158|
|16.||Scott Jeffs (46)||50.300|
|17.||Davide Dallara (89)||50.362|
|18.||Evgeny Sokolovsky (48)||50.637|
|19.||Bernardo Manfré (17)||51.744|
|20.||Federico Monti (2)||52.516|
|21.||Igor Romanov (90)||53.425|
In the EuroNASCAR 2 Qualifying session, things went hectic quickly as teams and drivers began to realize that rain could be arriving soon. With the importance of setting a fast lap time as quickly as possible, the lap times began to tumble at a quicker pace with drivers such as championship leader Martin Doubek, Max Lanza, and Alberto Panebianco all making fast laps early on.
Advait Deodhar and Tobias Dauenhauer then began to take turns in lowering the times with Deodhar making the first sub-50 second lap time of the session in his 10th Qualifying lap. The session was then halted not too long after Deodhar set his time however, as the Red Flag fell after Miguel Gomes spun out at the kink between Druids and Graham Hill Bend and it was during this Red Flag period that rain starts to fall down, bringing the manic Qualifying session into an early end.
While Michael Bleekemolen and Evgeny Sokolovsky briefly headed out on the track later in the session to gain some track time on the wet tires, rain’s arrival meant that Deodhar’s time of 49.918 was enough to secure his first career pole position in the series – a first for an Indian driver in the series.
Dauenhauer and Justin Kunz qualified second and third respectively while rookie Alberto Panebianco scores an impressive 4th place result in the Qualifying. Garisto was fifth in the Shadow while Doubek and Vladimiros Tziortzis’ best lap time only puts them 6th and 11th on the grid respectively.
Max Lanza’s early Qualifying charge was enough to put him in 7th place as the fastest Legend Trophy driver while Alina Loibnegger was the quickest out of the two female drivers in the field, edging out Arianna Casoli by more than 0.8 seconds. Shaun Hollamby, who qualified last, only completed 3 laps and wasn’t able to set a quick flying lap time due to an electrical issue on his No. 77 Lettner Trans Camaro.
Full EuroNASCAR 2 Qualifying Result
|1.||Avdait Deodhar (56)||49.918|
|2.||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||50.110|
|3.||Justin Kunz (22)||50.161|
|4.||Alberto Panebianco (89)||50.456|
|5.||Francesco Garisto (17)||50.512|
|6.||Martin Doubek (7)||50.623|
|7.||Max Lanza (88)||50.867|
|8.||Simon Pilate (66)||51.002|
|9.||Pierluigi Veronesi (27)||51.088|
|10.||Evgeny Sokolovsky (48)||51.124|
|11.||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||51.299|
|12.||Michael Bleekemolen (69)||51.347|
|13.||Naveh Talor (90)||51.445|
|14.||Thomas Krasonis (2)||51.570|
|15.||Ian Eric Waden (44)||51.754|
|16.||Leevi Lintukanto (23)||52.194|
|17.||Miguel Gomes (46)||53.373|
|18.||Matthias Hauer (64)||53.947|
|19.||Alina Loibnegger (12)||56.111|
|20.||Arianna Casoli (54)||56.975|
|21.||Shaun Hollamby (77)||1:09.657|
EuroNASCAR PRO’s first race began on the dry conditions later in the afternoon as all 21 drivers took the green flag at approximately 13:00 local time. Starting from pole, Day quickly got into the lead of the race with Hezemans right on his tail. The battle continued for approximately 10 laps before Day began to make a breakaway from Hezemans and by halfway point the gap has increased to approximately 4.5 seconds.
Eventually, Day would take his 25th career victory in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as he won by 4.548 in a thrilling 38-lap race at Brands Hatch. Hezemans would eventually settle for second place, but he did set the fastest lap time on the race to put himself on pole for Sunday’s race.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Day in the post-race interview with series commentator Mark Werrell. “Twenty-five victories, 21 with CAAL, I think it’s an amazing number. It was a good race today, Loris gave me a hard time in the beginning but what can I say, the team did a great job.”
Behind them, there was a fantastic scrap for third place that went on for the majority of the race. Nicolo Rocca, who qualified third, had managed to keep his position after the start but throughout the race he had to defend from a chasing pack consisting of Ghirelli, Bleekemolen, Ercoli, and Graff.
Rocca’s job at defending his podium position was helped because the chasing pack continued to trade positions, with Graff in particular climbing from 7th to 4th in a space of 4 laps. Thanks to the squabbles made by the chasing pack drivers, Rocca was able to hold off the chasing pack to claim his second podium finish of the season.
Ghirelli would be classified fourth while Graff, who crossed the line in fifth, was demoted to 10th for excessive track limit violations that resulted in the Swede incuring a 10-second time penalty from the stewards. The penalty would promote Bleekemolen up to fifth for his second consecutive Top-10 finish.
Ercoli, Gabillon, Giorgio Maggi, and Simon Pilate were also promoted up a place on the final results with Pilate claiming the bonus points for most positions gained, having climbed 6 places from 15th on the grid. Henri Tuomaala would claim the win in the Challenger Trophy, fending off the challenge from Davide Dallara and Sokolovsky.
Unfortunately for the 4,000 fans that visited the SpeedFest, the home drivers had to retire from the race. Steering issues on the Days of Thunder-throwback Chevy sent Scott Jeffs into an accident at the entry of Clearways with just 5 laps to go, while Alex Sedgwick was forced to retire in the pits due to a burned plug wire that resulted in a loss of cylinder for the No. 24 NBA 2K21 Chevrolet.
Full EuroNASCAR PRO Race 1 Result
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Alon Day (88)||38||31:55.433|
|2.||2||Loris Hezemans (7)||38||+ 4.548|
|3.||3||Nicolò Rocca (22)||38||+ 10.567|
|4.||6||Vittorio Ghirelli (50)||38||+ 10.770|
|5.||4||Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69)||38||+ 11.968|
|6.||5||Gianmarco Ercoli (54)||38||+ 12.281|
|7.||9||Frederic Gabillon (3)||38||+ 15.911|
|8.||10||Giorgio Maggi (18)||38||+ 17.285|
|9.||15||Simon Pilate (66)||38||+ 20.628|
|10.||7||Alexander Graff (44)||38||+ 21.0571|
|11.||12||Marc Goossens (77)||38||+ 24.113|
|12.||13||Lucas Lasserre (64)||38||+ 24.4792|
|13.||11||Ulysse Delsaux (10)||38||+ 24.547|
|14.||14||Henri Tuomaala (23)||38||+ 33.480|
|15.||17||Davide Dallara (89)||38||+ 40.030|
|16.||18||Evgeny Sokolovsky (48)||37||+ 1 Lap|
|17.||19||Bernardo Manfre (17)||37||+ 1 Lap|
|18.||20||Federico Monti (2)||36||+ 2 Laps|
|19.||21||Igor Romanov (90)||35||+ 3 Laps|
|20.||16||Scott Jeffs (46)||33||DNF (Accident)|
|21.||8||Alex Sedgwick (24)||24||DNF (Engine)|
1 Alexander Graff received a 10-second time penalty for excessive track limit violations.
2 Lucas Lasserre received a 5-second time penalty for excessive track limit violations.
Later that evening, the 30-lap EuroNASCAR 2 race began on dry conditions as Deodhar successfully held on to the lead on the start. The race was halted not too long after, however, as contact between Hollamby and Leevi Lintukanto sent the No. 23 Barot’s Camaro in the gravel trap at Paddock Hill, ending the Finn’s race early.
After a lengthy Safety Car period, the race was restarted with Deodhar successfully managing to keep the lead once again. Deodhar was pressured by Dauenhauer throughout the race, but the 31-year old Indian driver showcased his experience by putting a masterclass in a defensive race, keeping the German at bay and skillfully getting past the lapped cars on his way to score his first career victory in the EuroNASCAR 2 division.
The win proved to be a historic one in many ways. Not only is his victory the first for an Indian driver in the Euro Series, his win also stopped the 12-race win streak that Hendriks Motorsport have in the EuroNASCAR 2 division – the longest streak of the most consecutive wins for any team in Euro Series so far.
“I need to pinch myself, I can’t believe that I just won!” said Deodhar in the post-race interview. “That was a difficult race with Tobias literally in my bumper for the entire race, it wasn’t easy but thank you for CAAL Racing for giving me one heck of a car. In my entire life that’s only my second ever win, so it feels really special to do it in Brands Hatch!”
Another driver that had an impressive day is Shadow’s Francesco Garisto, who fought his way up to third place at the line. Unfortunately for Garisto, his attempt at overtaking Panebianco at Druids on lap 15 was not clean after he tapped the Not Only Motorsport driver off-line, ultimately costing him the podium on the final results after the stewards gave him a 5-second post-race time penalty for it.
The penalty would ultimately promote Simon Pilate to third-place with Panebianco promoted up to fourth, easily winning the Rookie Trophy along the way given that his closest Rookie Trophy contender – Miguel Gomes – was a lap down. Justin Kunz finished fifth ahead of Martin Doubek while Garisto’s penalty dropped him down to 7th place. Pierluigi Veronesi had a relatively quiet day in the office as he only finished in 8th ahead of the struggling Tziortzis with Naveh Talor completing the Top 10.
Finishing in 11th is Max Lanza, who claimed the win in the Legend Trophy despite having an off-track excursion on the first lap, forcing him to fought his way through the pack after he dropped down to 13th place. Sokolovsky just missed out on the Legend Trophy win in the end, but nonetheless it was an impressive performance for the Ukrainian driver as he put on a competitive race at Brands Hatch, climbing up to 8th place at one point.
Lady Trophy honors was claimed by Arianna Casoli, who once again found herself in a three-way battle with Loibnegger and the Speedhouse car, now driven by Matthias Hauer. Hollamby recovered from his incident with Lintukanto to finish in 15th – claiming the most positions gained bonus points along the way – while Thomas Krasonis would join Lintukanto in the retirements after his gearbox grinded to a halt on lap 19.
Full EuroNASCAR 2 Race 1 Result
|POS||GRID||DRIVER||LAPS||TIME / GAP|
|1.||1||Advait Deodhar (56)||30||28:13.351|
|2.||2||Tobias Dauenhauer (50)||30||+ 0.433|
|3.||8||Simon Pilate (66)||30||+ 10.628|
|4.||4||Alberto Panebianco (89)||30||+ 11.724|
|5.||3||Justin Kunz (22)||30||+ 12.135|
|6.||6||Martin Doubek (7)||30||+ 12.707|
|7.||5||Francesco Garisto (17)||30||+ 13.0341|
|8.||9||Pierluigi Veronesi (27)||30||+ 13.350|
|9.||11||Vladimiros Tziortzis (1)||30||+ 13.651|
|10.||13||Naveh Talor (90)||30||+ 13.932|
|11.||7||Max Lanza (88)||30||+ 18.594|
|12.||10||Evgeny Sokolovsky (48)||30||+ 20.287|
|13.||15||Ian Eric Waden (44)||30||+ 21.237|
|14.||12||Michael Bleekemolen (69)||30||+ 21.762|
|15.||21||Shaun Hollamby (77)||30||+ 48.050|
|16.||17||Miguel Gomes (46)||29||+ 1 Lap|
|17.||20||Arianna Casoli (54)||29||+ 1 Lap|
|18.||18||Matthias Hauer (64)||29||+ 1 Lap|
|19.||19||Alina Loibnegger (12)||29||+ 1 Lap|
|20.||14||Thomas Krasonis (2)||19||DNF (Gearbox)|
|21.||16||Leevi Lintukanto (23)||2||DNF (Collision)|
1 Francesco Garisto received a 5-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Alberto Panebianco.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard / Bart Dehaese.