The 2021 edition of Belcar’s crown jewel race 24 Hours of Zolder will take place this weekend as defending EuroNASCAR champion Alon Day headlines the seven past and present EuroNASCAR stars that will be competing in one of Belgium’s biggest sports car events.
24 Hours of Zolder, the yearly sports car race that headlines the Belcar Endurance Championship series, will be set to take the green flag today for its first event in more than a year following the cancellation of last year’s event due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Belcar’s crown jewel race has always attracted the biggest Belgian racing superstars and given Belgium’s notable presence within NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, it’s certainly no surprise that there has been a considerable overlap between the two categories and this year proved to be no different as seven past and present EuroNASCAR stars are scheduled to compete in the 2021 edition.
Headlining the seven EuroNASCAR starts this weekend is the defending three-time EuroNASCAR champion himself, Alon Day. Day will be set to make his first start in Belcar’s crown jewel race as the Israeli driver is also scheduled to make his grand return with his 2020 championship-winning team PK Carsport, a powerhouse team in itself on the Belcar championship, for the first time since Belcar’s visit to Hockenheim earlier this year.
PK Carsport, fielding two cars in the top Prototype category as part of a joint operation with both Russell Racing and Krafft Racing, is no stranger to success in 24 Hours of Zolder as the team have scored a record 10 victories – 9 as PK Carsport and 1 under the Kraftt banner – in the event and given they have secured a 1-2 result in Qualifying, it is likely that the Belgian powerhouse team will be extending their record this weekend.
PK Carsport’s team owner Anthony Kumpen, no stranger to EuroNASCAR success himself given that he is a two-time champion in the top clas, has also won the race a record six times, being the first tp do so when he achieved his last win in 2012. Kumpen’s record has since been matched twice by two other drivers, both will be set to compete this year and both of them also have plenty of experience in EuroNASCAR.
The first to tie the record is Marc Goossens, who tied Kumpen’s record with his sixth victory in 2016. An EuroNASCAR veteran himself with 52 starts and a win in six years of competition, Goossens will headline the No. 99 Belgium Racing Porsche team in the GTA category as he is set to be reunited with his 2020 teammate Dylan Derdaele in a bid to win the race for a record seventh time.
While Derdaele’s EuroNASCAR experience has been relatively brief in comparison to Goossens given that his first full-season campaign was done in the shortened 2020 season, Derdaele is no stranger to success in the 24 Hour race as he is a four-time race winner himself, all won consecutively with his family-run Belgium Racing team.
Qualifying has been considerably tougher for the Belgium Racing Porsche team given that they only qualified in 12th place overall and seventh in class, but the Porsche Cup cars that Belgium Racing races with is a proven race winner in the event thanks to its exceptional reliability and it is expected that the team will continue to perform strongly after they came close to the victory in 2019, narrowly missing out to the team led by the other six-time winner of the event: Bert Longin.
Kumpen’s long-time partner Bert Longin is the other driver to have tied the record, having scored his sixth win in the 2019 edition of the 24 Hour race. Still very much involved in sports car racing with PK Carsport to this day, Bert – a former full-time competitor for PK in the PRO class – is also chasing for the illustrous seventh race win in the 24 Hour race alongside two other EuroNASCAR drivers in the yellow No. 11 Norma M20.
One of whom is Bert’s own son, Stienes Longin. Stienes’ success in EuroNASCAR is certainly well known given that he was the 2016 EuroNASCAR 2 champion in a record-breaking year for both him and PK Carsport given that the 8 wins he scored that year was still unmatched across both EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2.
Stienes then moved up to EuroNASCAR PRO to replace his father in the No. 11 PK team and while the first two years in the top class was considerably tough for the younger Longin, 2019 proved to be his breakthrough year after he finished second in the championship with an iconic first win during the season finale race at Zolder.
Stienes accompanied his father during Bert’s 24 Hours of Zolder triumph in 2019, giving the younger Longin his first race win on the event which also saw another EuroNASCAR runner-up in 2019 score their first race win at the 24 Hours: Giorgio Maggi.
Maggi, the 2019 EuroNASCAR 2 runner-up who is currently finding his strides as one of the trio of drivers Hendriks Motorsport signed in the top class this year, was signed as PK Carsport’s endurance driver in the No. 11 team which allowed the Swiss driver to win the race on his first attempt in 2019, making him the first ever Swiss driver to win Belcar’s crown jewel event.
Having maintaining his contract as PK’s Belcar endurance driver for 2021, Maggi will be set to join the Longin’s in the yellow No. 11 Norma as the trio, along with fellow 2019 winner Christoff Corten, will be trying to defend the win that they earned in 2019.
Last but not least, Marko Stipp Motorsport’s Evgeny Sokolovsky is also set to compete for the QSR Racing team in the TA division. Sokolovsky, a full-time driver for QSR with their Audi RS3 LMS in this year’s Belcar championship, will be attempting to take part in his first 24 Hours of Zolder race as he and QSR will be looking to extend their championship lead in Belcar’s Touring Car division.
Outside of the seven EuroNASCAR drivers listed above, there is another driver set to participate in this year’s 24 Hours of Zolder event that have plenty of stock car racing experience background. It’s a name that one might be familar with thanks to his past involvement with a certain hit British motoring show: Ben Collins.
Collins, best known for his role as The Stig from seasons 3 to 16 in Top Gear, had plenty of experience in stock car racing thanks to his involvement in the British-based ASCAR Racing Series, Europe’s biggest stock car championship prior to its folding in 2008. Like Day and Sokolovsky, Collins is also set to make his debut in the 24 Hour race as one of Xwift Racing Events’ lead drivers in the GTA category, racing the Praga XR1’s on the car’s debut in the 24 Hour race.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of Belcar Series.