Marko Stipp Motorsport’s Gordon Barnes secured his second victory in Club Challenge on Friday’s running of the OMV MaxxMotion NASCAR Show as Vittorio Ghirelli and Max Lanza led the Free Practice sessions in a day that saw the running order getting mixed up by the wet weather conditions.

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series competitors hit the track for the first time in nearly 2 months yesterday as OMV MaxxMotion NASCAR Show begins with a downpour that led to most of the day’s on-track activities being held on a wet Autodrom Most circuit.

Friday started off with the second round of the Club Challenge division which saw nine of the listed entrants being officially listed as the participants of the regularity-based disivion. The threat of rain didn’t hold back Valencia winner Gordon Barnes as he once again claimed the victory in Club Challenge after he scored the highest cumulative amount of championship points in the two sessions that was held yesterday.

“It feels very good!” said Barnes in the Victory Lane. “After such a big gap [between Valencia and Most] you arrived here, you’re not too sure on how things are going and it’s the first visit to the track as well, so to actually come out on top at the end of the day is brilliant.”

Speedhouse’s impressive young talent Paul Jouffreau finished second once again as he narrowly lost out to Barnes due to a higher amount of penalty points received. Nicolo Gabossi also completed the final step of the podium yet again, scoring two second-place finishes in the two sessions held yesterday.

Andreas Kuchelbacher finished fourth on his return to the series ahead of Federico Monti while Jerome Mure, Marcel Berndt, and Simona Lenci completed the classifications. Leonardo Colavita, who was due to make his series debut in Vict’s No. 9 Camaro this weekend, failed to set a lap time due to a suspected mechanical issue and he was later classified as a non-starter in the final results.

The heavens eventually opened at some point between Club Challenge and the Free Practice sessions as the on-track activity for the two main classes began on 13:50 local time with EuroNASCAR PRO’s first Practice session.

The wet weather conditions proved to be a major obstacle for the drivers and teams, but at the end of the day it was Vittorio Ghirelli that came out on top in the PRO class as he became the only driver in either ENPRO and EN2 to set a sub 1:52 lap time with a final lap time of 1:51.900 in the combined timesheets.

His Hendriks teammate Giorgio Maggi also ran strongly yesterday as he brought home the newly-wrapped Hezeberg Systems Ford in second with a best time of 1:52.091. Frédéric Gabillon enjoyed his best session in a long time as the French veteran driver came home third with a time of 1:52.204, finishing just ahead of Alon Day whose FP1 time of 1:52.234 was enough to secure a fourth-place finish.

The wet conditions tends to create a lot of surprise and it’s no different on Friday’s Practice sessions as rookie Andrea Nori scored a surprise Top-5 finish on the combined timesheets, barely edging out series veteran Marc Goossens by just 0.001 seconds.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Gianmarco Ercoli, who currently is second in the championship, struggled all-day long and he would end his day on a lowly note with a 17th place finish, having never cracked the sub 1:54 mark in the process.

Romain Iannetta also created a surprise as he finished second in FP1 despite having never been on an EuroNASCAR car for nearly two years, eventually ending his 10th place behind Loris Hezemans, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, and Ulysse Delsaux.

Academy Motorsport didn’t enjoy the best time on Friday as all three cars encountered mechanical issues. Jacques Villeneuve came out the best as he initially started his day strong with a 5th place finish in FP1, but he failed to set a time in the final Practice session due to the aforementioned issues which would eventually demote the Canadian driver to 14th place in the combined timesheets.

Teammate and team co-owner Federico Monti also failed to set a lap time while Michaela Dorcikova, who received a very late call-up by Academy Motorsport to compete in the No. 1 Remedica Ford this weekend, was able to gain some valuable track time despite mechanical issues also struck her car in the final Practice session.

EuroNASCAR PRO Combined Practice Times

RANK DRIVER FP1 TIME FP2 TIME
1. Vittorio Ghirelli (50) 1:53.349 1:51.900
2. Giorgio Maggi (18) 1:53.559 1:52.091
3. Frédéric Gabillon (3) 1:53.841 1:52.204
4. Alon Day (88) 1:52.234 1:55.563
5. Andrea Nori (90) 1:54.529 1:52.310
6. Marc Goossens (77) 1:55.167 1:52.321
7. Loris Hezemans (7) 1:53.907 1:52.339
8. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (69) 1:53.903 1:52.375
9. Ulysse Delsaux (10) 1:55.277 1:52.482
10. Romain Iannetta (46) 1:53.281 1:52.769
11. Francesco Sini (12) 1:53.354 1:53.066
12. Nicolò Rocca (22) 1:53.657 1:53.317
13. Henri Tuomaala (23) 1:56.308 1:53.428
14. Jacques Villeneuve (5) 1:53.477 No Time
15. Lucas Lasserre (64) 1:53.558 No Time
16. Patrick Lemarié (66) 1:54.939 1:54.231
17. Gianmarco Ercoli (54) 1:54.559 1:54.908
18. Davide Dallara (89) 1:54.705 No Time
19. Dario Caso (8) 1:56.225 1:54.709
20. Evgeny Sokolovsky (48) 1:56.360 1:55.248
21. Ian Eric Wadén (44) 1:58.661 1:55.549
22. Michaela Dorcikova (1) 1:57.171 2:10.969
23. Bernardo Manfré (17) 1:58.898 1:58.540
24. Federico Monti (2) 2:06.355 No Time

Max Lanza created a surprise in the EuroNASCAR 2 division as he finished the day as the fastest driver in the junior class with a time of 1:52.806, set in the first Practice session. Lanza’s strong performance was unmatched by the rest of the field as no one was able to improve on their time in the final Practice session due to worsening weather conditions at Most.

Rain had fallen down again in between EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2’s final Practice sessions and the rain that arrived on the evening was harder than the afternoon rainfall, forcing drivers to be more cautious as showcased by Tobias Dauenhauer’s fastest FP2 lap time of 1:58.298, which was more than 5 seconds slower than Lanza’s fastest time in FP1.

Photo courtesy of Advait Deodhar

Lanza’s teammate Advait Deodhar, who is running a special tribute to his late brother Akshay on his car this weekend, continued to showcase his wet-weather prowess as he finished the day in second place with a time of 1:53.046. Vladimiros Tziortzis came home in third ahead of championship rivals Martin Doubek and Dauenhauer, who finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Rookie Alberto Panebianco continued to make an impression as he finished sixth in the combined timesheets, the highest finishing Rookie Trophy driver on Friday’s sessions. Justin Kunz, Leevi Lintukanto, Evgeny Sokolovsky, and Paolo Valeri completes the Top 10 while Gil Linster barely missed out on a Top-10 finish on his first EuroNASCAR session since 2018.

Naveh Talor had his day interrupted by a crash in FP1 that left the Israeli driver in 16th place on the combined timesheets. DF1 Racing once again experienced car issues as Ian Eric Wadén and Simon Pilate failed to set a lap time on the first Practice session due to the issues they experienced. By the time their car issues were fixed, the weather conditions prevented them from setting a competitive lap time and they would end their day in 17th and 18th place respectively.

EuroNASCAR 2 Combined Practice Times

RANK DRIVER FP1 TIME FP2 TIME
1. Max Lanza (88) 1:52.806 2:02.888
2. Advait Deodhar (56) 1:53.046 2:00.020
3. Vladimiros Tziortzis (1) 1:53.162 2:02.023
4. Martin Doubek (7) 1:53.325 2:02.203
5. Tobias Dauenhauer (50) 1:53.352 1:58.298
6. Alberto Panebianco (89) 1:53.437 No Time
7. Justin Kunz (22) 1:53.569 2:00.943
8. Leevi Lintukanto (23) 1:54.453 2:03.432
9. Evgeny Sokolovsky (48) 1:55.469 2:02.388
10. Paolo Valeri (8) 1:55.590 2:12.484
11. Gil Linster (77) 1:55.599 2:01.050
12. Thomas Krasonis (2) 1:56.163 2:01.771
13. Francesco Garisto (42) 1:56.471 2:00.820
14. Pierluigi Veronesi (27) 1:57.874 2:02.033
15. Miguel Gomes (46) 2:02.481 2:08.881
16. Naveh Talor (90) 2:04.715 2:05.025
17. Ian Eric Wadén (44) No Time 2:05.215
18. Simon Pilate (66) No Time 2:06.048
19. Alina Loibnegger (12) 2:06.766 2:17.996
20. Eric Quintal (64) 2:07.887 No Time
21. Arianna Casoli (54) 2:11.145 2:14.899
22. Michael Bleekemolen (69) No Time No Time

Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese.

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