World of EuroNASCAR’s third and final Race Preview for American SpeedFest 9 previews the potential continuation of Vladimiros Tziortzis and Alberto Naska’s epic battle at Valencia and its impact to the field as 31 drivers are set to compete in the second round of the 2022 season.
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.
Just like with EuroNASCAR PRO, EuroNASCAR 2 returns to Brands Hatch this year with a record grid of 31 entrants, which for EN2’s case broke the previous SpeedFest record of 29 entrants that was set in 2018.
The results from the season opening round at Valencia showed that there’s two early frontrunners for the EN2 title in 2022: The veteran from Academy Motorsport Vladimiros Tziortzis and the rookie, CAAL Racing’s Alberto “Naska” Fontana.
Tziortzis has proven himself to be the driver to beat at Valencia after the Cypriot driver led almost every session and was, on average, half a second quicker than his closest opponents on the 4.005-km long Ricardo Tormo circuit.
This stunning pace was best demonstrated during the race itself: On both races he finished with a gap of 6 seconds to his closest rival – a large margin by Euro standards – and was on the verge of lapping the backmarkers when the checkered flag was dropped after 15 laps of racing. He was also the only driver who was able to set a lap time in the 1:42’s on race pace.
His performance was tarnished somewhat by the discovery of a technical infringement after the Sunday race that demoted him to 11th after initially winning by 6 seconds on the road, but in any case the rapid pace of Tziortzis and the No. 5 FJ have certainly raised the alarm for their closest competitors.
Naska, the internet sensation whose YouTube channel has garnered more than 725 thousand subscribers as of the writing of this article, has certainly proved himself to be a sensation on the track as well as he surprised people by how well he has adapted to the EuroNASCAR stock cars.
He was the clear second best driver on the grid at Valencia and in the process he also scored his first EuroNASCAR victory in just his second race, albeit it’s a win that was given to him off-track thanks to the penalty that Tziortzis received.
Despite this, it’s without a shadow of the doubt that Naska has what it takes to win in EuroNASCAR and with his position as the current championship leader and leader in the Rookie Trophy, we can expect his first on-track victory will come sooner than later – something that would please Naska’s fanbase very well.
Tziortzis and Naska’s domination at Valencia may have set the seeds for a titanic championship battle between both of them, but there are drivers such as defending EuroNASCAR 2 champion Martin Doubek that would want a piece of the championship battle for themselves as well.
Doubek may have been humbled by Tziortzis and Naska’s domination at Valencia after he finished more than 10 seconds behind Tziortzis on the road in both of the races, but it doesn’t mean that the Czech driver is going to be out of the title race without a fight.
If anything, Doubek will put up his maximum on his quest to become EN2’s first ever double champion, something that was best showcased when he fought back from a first-lap spin to score a comeback podium finish in the first race at Valencia.
Doubek knows all too well that consistency will decide the championship – something that he used to great effect last year – and he will be hoping to stay focused and keep scoring strong finishes in hopes that it would play into hands should Tziortzis or Naska slip up at some point this year.
Other top contenders such as Liam Hezemans, Gil Linster and Ulysse Delsaux would want to build the momentum that they have built from Valencia as they also looked to strengthen their case as a title contender in 2022.
There are also drivers such as Paul Jouffreau, Legend Trophy leader Melvin de Groot, Leonardo Colavita, Francesco Garisto, and Advait Deodhar who wanted to earn a shot at scoring a Top-5 finish at Brands Hatch to potentially put them as an outside contender for the EuroNASCAR 2 title in 2022.
For the drivers that competed for the Lady Trophy sub-classifications, the results at Valencia showed that the debutants Luli del Castello and Aliyyah Koloc were more than capable of fighting with the boys in the midfield this year, placing them as the early favorites for the female driver focused sub-classification.
With Luli and Aliyyah’s competitiveness and the experience brought in by sophomore year driver Alina Loibnegger and EuroNASCAR 2’s most experienced driver Arianna Casoli, the ninth edition of American SpeedFest is expected to give the fiercest Lady Trophy competition to date.
EuroNASCAR 2’s qualifying will begin on Saturday at 10:45 CEST (4:45 AM EDT) and like in ENPRO, EN2’s Qualifying would also feature the Group qualifying system that was designed to address the issue of putting more than 30 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 17:15 CEST (11:15 AM EDT) with Race 2 stream being scheduled to be aired on Sunday at 17:00 CEST (11:00 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.