After a lengthy summer break, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series returns to action this weekend as the series makes their long-awaited return to Czech Republic with 28 teams and 50 drivers from all three classes being entered for the Autodrom Most NASCAR Show.
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will be returning to the track this weekend as the series ends their lenghty summer break with a return to Czech Republic for the second edition of the Autodrom Most NASCAR Show.
EuroNASCAR’s return to Autodrom Most would finally see the Czech track receive their shot to host another Euro Series round after the track experienced a series of schedule complications caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The second edition of Autodrom Most NASCAR Show was due to be hosted on 20-21 June 2020 initially, but it was later postponed to November before a spike of COVID-19 cases in October and the ensuing restrictions imposed by the government forced its cancellation.
Autodrom Most NASCAR Show was then listed to take place on 19-20 June 2021 in the 2021 provisional calendar but due to the ongoing restrictions in the country and the promoters’ desire for the round to be able to accommodate fans, it was later shuffled back to 28-29 August on the same weekend that the FIA European Truck Racing Championship was due to host their own round at Most.
Given the success of the first Autodrom Most NASCAR Show, the ongoing success of home driver Martin Doubek in the EuroNASCAR 2, and its exceptionally long build-up due to the circumstances, it’s no surprise that interest for NASCAR GP Czech Republic is at a new high heading to this weekend’s race.
A total of 28 teams and 50 drivers from all three classes are expected to compete in this weekend’s round as some teams and drivers makes their return to the series after they took an absence on the previous round at Brands Hatch.
On the team’s side of things, Academy Motorsport will be bringing back the No. 5 car for Jacques Villeneuve as 42 Racing is expected to enter two Shadow DNM8’s once again. 42 Racing fielded only one car at Brands Hatch due to the damages sustained by the No. 42 Shadow at Valencia.
Elsewhere, Vict Motorsport will be returning with a two-car effort after the team entered just one car during their previous entry at Valencia. The team is set to enter the No. 9 car for the first time since 2019, with the No. 9 team being spotted testing their car on a private test at Rijeka recently.
In the EuroNASCAR PRO class, 22 drivers are expected to enter with Loris Hezemans once again coming in as the clear favorite for Most. Hezemans came close to sweeping the inaugural Autodrom Most NASCAR Show in 2019 and with the Dutchman’s near-perfect record to the 2021 season so far, it will be a tough ask for any driver to be able to match the pace set by the 24-year old driver.
CAAL Racing’s duo of Gianmarco Ercoli and Alon Day has proved themselves to be the closest challengers to Hezemans this year and it’s expected that they would continue to push Hezemans to the limit at Most.
There will be an added pressure on Alon Day starting from this round, however, as the engine failure on Race 2 at Brands Hatch meant that Day effectively had used both of his “joker” rounds. Any further mistakes committed by the No. 88 team would be costly for Day’s chances of becoming EuroNASCAR’s first four-time champion this year.
Hezemans’ teammates at Hendriks Vittorio Ghirelli and Giorgio Maggi along with Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, running a Hendriks-prepared Team Bleekemolen car, are also expected to give the Dutchman a run for his money based on their strong outings at Brands Hatch and their successful track record at the track in 2019.
For Maggi, there will be an extra air of freshness for his side of the garage as the No. 18 team is set to be competing with a brand new scheme at Most. The new scheme is based on the No. 42 MBM Supra that Maggi raced with at Indianapolis and will feature Hezeberg Systems as the team’s new primary sponsor for the week.
Academy Motorsport has also teased that the No. 2 FJ team of Federico Monti and Thomas Krasonis will feature a new scheme this weekend, although as of the writing of this article Academy has yet to reveal it.
Jacques Villeneuve and Francesco Sini would be returning to the EuroNASCAR grid this weekend after they were forced to miss Brands Hatch due to other obligations and the birth of “little Ringhio” respectively.
Patrick Lemarie would also return to the No. 66 Camaro after he skipped the previous round at Brands Hatch to give Simon Pilate a chance to fulfill the 7-round deal stipulated on his contract this year, as revealed by teammate Goossens during his time at the broadcasting booth in Brands Hatch.
The Italian duo of veteran Dario Caso and rookie Andrea Nori would also return to the No. 8 and No. 90 cars respectively, although curiously Luigi Ferrara – who competed in Pure ETCR for Romeo Ferraris last weekend – is not entered in the No. 42 Shadow despite the team being set to make their return this week. Alexander Graff also isn’t entered for Most as Ian Eric Waden is set to do the double duty in the No. 44 car this weekend.
A total of 22 drivers are also expected to compete in the EuroNASCAR 2 division this week. All eyes will be placed on home crowd favorite Martin Doubek, who will be trying to find his top form once again after a disastrous weekend at Brands Hatch saw him lose the championship lead to teammate Tobias Dauenhauer.
Competition for the top honors in the junior class is expected to be fierce after Advait Deodhar’s maiden victory and Simon Pilate’s double podium finishes placed them in the spotlight as the newest contenders for the top step of the podium this year.
Double V’s Pierluigi Veronesi and Not Only Motorsport’s Naveh Talor and Alberto Panebianco will continue to look for an opportunity to earn their first podium finish of the year as they established themselves as the underdog competitors for the title.
Gil Linster’s return to EuroNASCAR would mark the most prominent change in the EN2 grid this weekend as he is set to make his first start of the year in the No. 77 DF1 Camaro, a deal that was revealed to be signed for the rest of the 2021 season.
EN2 veteran driver Eric Quintal returns to the No. 64 Speedhouse Ford after Matthias Hauer drove for the team at Brands Hatch while Vict’s return meant that rookie Paolo Valeri is also set to be returning to drive the No. 8 Camaro this week.
The regularity-based Club Challenge division will see a 12-car entry entered for this weekend, another sharp increase in the field size after Valencia saw a field of 8 cars being entered. It is, however, expected that three of them – Vladimiros Tziortzis, Alina Loibnegger, and Francesco Garisto – would only enter to familiarize themselves with the demanding 4.212 km Most circuit.
Andreas Kuchelbacher is expected to make his first Club Challenge start of the year after a rib injury forced his absence at Valencia while young Italian driver Leonardo Colavita is set to make his EuroNASCAR debut in the division as he is scheduled to race Vict’s returning No. 9 Camaro this weekend.
As usual, Autodrom Most NASCAR Show will be streamed live on Motorsport.tv and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ official Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch page. Spectators are allowed to spectate the round live using tickets that were purchased for the cancelled 2020 event or from the purchase of new tickets, providing they have been fully vaccinated and have taken the necessary COVID-19 tests required by the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health. More information on the tickets and the COVID-19 guidelines for the event can be checked on the link provided here.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.