World of EuroNASCAR’s second Race Preview for American SpeedFest 9 previews at the largest SpeedFest entry field in the EuroNASCAR PRO class as the key contenders are aiming to build up momentum that they have gained from Valencia this weekend.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will start the second round of the 2022 season this week as the series returns to Brands Hatch for the ninth edition of the popular American SpeedFest round.
American SpeedFest 9 is set to feature a record breaking entry list as a total of 35 teams and 59 drivers are set to compete in both EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2 this weekend, a sharp increase in number from the 26 cars and 41 drivers that took part in last year’s SpeedFest.
Just like with the season-opening Valencia NASCAR Fest at Circuit Ricardo Tormo last month, World of EuroNASCAR’s Race Preview for the SpeedFest will be divided into three parts as we will focus on the changes in the Entry List on the first part while EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2 will receive their dedicated Race Previews in Part 2 and Part 3.
On the eve of the highly successful Valencia NASCAR Fest that was full of excitement and surprises, the EuroNASCAR PRO grid returns to the United Kingdom for the 9th edition of the American SpeedFest this year with a record grid of 33 entrants, breaking the previous record of 29 entrants that was set in both 2018 and 2019.
Nicolò Rocca and Alon Day enters the SpeedFest as arguably the top favorite to win this weekend. Both drivers secured themselves a victory in the previous round at Valencia and with only 1 point separating them in the current championship standings, we can be sure that they will continue to give their maximum to build up their early claim to the top spot in the standings.
Of note for Day is that he is also chasing the possibility of becoming the winningest driver at Brands Hatch. Day currently has four wins at Brands Hatch, one less than Ander Vilarino’s record of five wins here. A win in any of the two races would allow Day to tie the record while a sweep at the SpeedFest would make Day the undisputed leader in the all-time wins list at Brands Hatch.
Speedhouse’s Alexander Graff returned to the series in style at Valencia after the Swede claimed his first career pole position and podium finish on the season opening round. Graff will be looking to continue to build up the momentum that he had built at Valencia as he aims to finally get a podium finish in Brands Hatch that he narrowly missed in 2019.
For Gianmarco Ercoli, Valencia proved to be an up and down weekend for him after a gearbox issue in race 1 and losing the win on the final restart of race 2 left him in just 13th place in the standings, 28 points behind teammate Rocca.
Despite this, it is clear that the pace was there for Ercoli as shown by the fastest lap that he scored on both Valencia races and the team has also shown their potential of maximizing results despite the circumstances, best showcased by the successful mid-race gearbox change that the team did to Ercoli’s car. Minimizing mistakes and potential mechanical troubles will be the key for Ercoli and CAAL’s No. 54 team if they want to claw back some of their early deficit in the championship this weekend.
Another driver to look forward this weekend is Romain Iannetta, whose last EuroNASCAR victory came at this track seven years ago. Iannetta’s performance at Valencia was a positive surprise for the Marko Stipp Motorsport team and he could have brought home a double Top-5 finish had it not been due to a late engine issue on Race 1.
While he ultimately didn’t give MSM their first podium finish after the lengthy post-race review to the results of Race 2 at Valencia rescinded the penalty for Day and Ercoli that gave Iannetta the chance to stand at the podium ceremony, Iannetta is still looking to be a contender for the podium finishes given the increased pace that MSM had in both of their cars this year.
Tobias Dauenhauer left Valencia as the clear winner in the Junior Trophy on the build up to Brands Hatch, but the sudden announcement of his withdrawal due to COVID-19 meant that the series will crown a new Junior Trophy winner this weekend.
Whether it’s Giorgio Maggi, Thomas Krasonis, Leonardo Colavita, Aliyyah Koloc, Jonne Rautjärvi or the debuting Eivind Brynildsen and Yasmeen Koloc, one of them will exit Brands Hatch as the winner of the Junior Trophy sub-classification.
For the Challenger Trophy, only four points separated Max Lanza and Martin Doubek at the top of the Trophy standings. Both drivers traded Challenger Trophy wins at Valencia, but Lanza gained the upper hand courtesy of the most positions gained points that he got from his impressive comeback performance in Race 1.
Doubek, of course, would not be going to stand back at Brands Hatch despite the added pressure of him becoming Hendriks’ sole EuroNASCAR PRO driver following Dauenhauer’s withdrawal. The defending EuroNASCAR 2 champion has showcased his capability to compete with the big guns at Valencia and continuing to do so at Brands Hatch would allow him to stamp his position as the leader of the Challenger Trophy.
EuroNASCAR PRO’s qualifying will begin on Saturday at 9:45 CEST (3:45 AM EDT) with the series’ first ever Group Qualifying system. The Group system, which will see the drivers split into two groups based on their championship position with the fastest 10 drivers on the combined times advancing to Superpole, is added to address the issue of putting 33 cars together in the 1.944 km-long Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.
The first race of the weekend is set to be aired live on Saturday at 13:55 CEST (7:55 AM EDT) with Race 2 stream being scheduled to be aired on Sunday at 14:20 CEST (8:30 AM EDT). As usual, all NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Qualifying and Race sessions will be broadcasted live on NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ YouTube channel.
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard / Bart Dehaese / Klemen Sofric.