Tuomas Pöntinen will return to Team Bleekemolen this weekend after he announced yesterday that he would be competing in EuroNASCAR 2 with the No. 23 Ford Mustang team at Vallelunga.
Tuomas Pöntinen will be returning to Team Bleekemolen’s No. 23 Barot’s Ford for this week’s NASCAR GP Italy at Autodromo Vallelunga, the Finn announced on his Facebook page yesterday.
Pöntinen, the defending Porsche Sprint Challenge NEZ champion, made his EuroNASCAR debut on the previous round at Brands Hatch after receiving a call from the Iceboys team – who effectively owned the No. 23 and No. 44 Team Bleekemolen entries – to replace the No. 23 team’s regular EuroNASCAR 2 driver Leevi Lintukanto, who was absent for an undisclosed reason.
Despite the last minute call-up, Pöntinen quickly adapted himself with the 5.7L V8-engined EuroNASCAR stock cars and performed impressively throughout the weekend, eventually bringing home a double Top-10 finish from his debut races.
“I started out cold at Brands Hatch, but the race went well in the end and I quickly adapted to the car,” said Pöntinen on his debut EuroNASCAR weekend. “You really have to drive these cars and the style is a lot rougher than in the Porsche. What I’ve already learned is that you have to be much braver in these races, the car is made of fiberglass and you shouldn’t be afraid of small contacts.”
According to the press release, Pöntinen’s return for Vallelunga was made possible after he was offered an opportunity to continue race the No. 23 Ford in the next round following his strong outing at Brands Hatch.
Pöntinen will once again partner the No. 23 team’s regular EuroNASCAR PRO driver Henri Tuomaala, who currently sits 12th in the ENPRO drivers standings.
“The [Bleekemolen/Iceboys] team is very professional and we have a good feeling about the team. It’s much easier to go to Vallelunga when you have at least a little experience. I’ll try to finish in the top five in the class and aim for a podium among the rookie drivers,” said Pöntinen on his expectations for Vallelunga.
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric / Bart Dehaese.