Paul Jouffreau scored his first ever podium finish in EuroNASCAR 2 on last week’s NASCAR GP Italy at Autodromo Vallelunga as he revealed that his maiden podium finish wasn’t an easy one to achieve.
SpeedHouse driver Paul Jouffreau enjoyed his best race weekend in his EuroNASCAR 2 career so far in last week’s NASCAR GP Italy at Autodromo Vallelunga as the 18-year old Frenchman scored his maiden podium finish in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ junior division.
Jouffreau’s weekend in Italy didn’t start well initially as he was forced to miss the second Practice session due to car problems, but he bounced back in the Saturday Qualifying to put himself in 12th position on the grid for the Saturday Race.
Jouffreau went on to finish in 11th in the Saturday Race after he had to recover from a first lap off-track excursion. His charge from the back allowed him to start from 6th in the Sunday Race and with the main championship contenders faltering due to mechanical issues and crashes, Jouffreau was able to capitalize from it to score his first podium in EuroNASCAR 2 with a 3rd place finish.
“We had quite a lot of problems on Friday, so I didn’t really drive during practice and then at the first race I was P10 on the first lap and I had a crash with someone which put me in last place. I then made a comeback and finished in P11, so I was really happy with that,” said Jouffreau on his performance at Vallelunga.
“The car was feeling really nice and I had a lot of fun, then yeah there is the podium and this feels really good!”
It wasn’t an easy podium for Jouffreau though as he had to continuously defend his position from the challenge brought by former EuroNASCAR 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux and EN2 championship leader Alberto Naska, who was involved in a collision with defending EN2 champion Martin Doubek on lap 5, during the latter stages of the race.
Jouffreau also revealed that he had to defend with just his inside mirror as the outboard mirror on his No. 33 Ford Mustang was damaged, making it harder to predict where the other drivers are on the track.
“It was tricky to defend against all those drivers because my mirrors at the exterior of the car were broken, so I was driving with the one inside,” explained Jouffreau. “It wasn’t easy at all to imagine where the other was, but I’m really happy I didn’t make mistakes and they didn’t overtake me. This was the first time that I was in this situation with a racing car so that was really cool.”
Much like the previous round at Brands Hatch, Vallelunga saw plenty of fans visiting the track to witness their EuroNASCAR heroes race through the 4.085-km long International Circuit and just like with Brands Hatch, the fan’s passionate spirit left a good impression on Jouffreau.
“There was a really big crowd, of course they were there for the Italian drivers but it was cool to see all those people,” said Jouffreau of the passionate Italian fans.
Jouffreau’s fortuitous maiden podium in EuroNASCAR 2 allowed him to move up to 7th place in the drivers standings. He does admit that his pace still needs to be improved if he wants to be a regular factor in the podium battle, but he wouldn’t cross out the possibility of scoring another podium in the second half of the season.
“Everything can happen!” said Jouffreau on his podium chances. “A podium this weekend is clearly because of those incidents but I try all I can do to be faster after each weekend and I have to work on myself to get the pace to get in the P3 pace!”
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric.