Our third and final Race Preview for NASCAR GP Czech Republic at Autodrom Most takes a look at what can we expect from the title challengers, Rookie Trophy, Legend Trophy, and the Lady Trophy in EuroNASCAR 2.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is ready to return to action this week for the fourth round of the 2022 season, the NASCAR GP Czech Republic at Autodrom Most.
World of EuroNASCAR’s Race Preview for the NASCAR GP Czech Republic is divided into three parts as Part 3 will be focused on what we can expect from the EuroNASCAR 2 field. We have discussed the changes in the Entry List on Part 1 and what to expect from the EuroNASCAR on the Part 2 article that we released earlier this week.
Two drivers, Alberto Naska and Liam Hezemans, entered the second half of the season as the main favorites in the EuroNASCAR 2 division as several other drivers are looking to bounce back from a tough weekend at Vallelunga.
For Naska, his maiden season in EuroNASCAR so far can only be summed up in one word: Spectacular. Naska has showcased excellent maturity for a driver in his rookie year and his three victories has shown that he can both dominate a race from the start-to-finish and take advantage of every inch of opportunity that he can find on the track.
His success, coupled with his immense popularity thanks to the community that he has built through his YouTube channel, meant that Naska certainly would continue to bring more eyes to the sport as the 2022 season enters its second half.
Liam has also been spectacular in his own right as he shows the EuroNASCAR world why he’s a driver that would continue on the legacy that his brother Loris has built.
What’s particularly impressive for Liam is that the 2022 EuroNASCAR season is Liam’s first ever season as a racing driver whereas Naska has had multiple seasons of competition in both two and four wheels before entering EuroNASCAR this year.
Despite being less experienced that his main rival, there’s no doubt that Liam had the pace to win in EuroNASCAR as best exemplified by his victory at Vallelunga where he managed to overcome a 10-second time penalty to win by 11 seconds from Team Bleekemolen’s Tuomas Pöntinen. Building up momentum from his heroic effort at Vallelunga will be the key for Liam as he aims to score a win at a track where his older brother had previously won in 2019.
Academy Motorsport’s Vladimiros Tziortzis also had the pace to win in EuroNASCAR, but he would need his luck to improve as his retirement from the second race at Vallelunga – the same race that Liam dominated – meant that the Cypriot trails Naska by 41 points in the current standings.
No one has questioned Tziortzis’ speed this year, but he has lost three potential victories this year thanks to a post-race inspection penalty at Valencia 2, being outgunned by Naska on the Overtime restart at Brands Hatch 1, and a blown engine in Vallelunga 2.
The issues at Valencia 2 and Vallelunga 2 left Tziortzis with little room for error in the remaining six races as he’s in position to use the rounds mentioned as his regular season “joker” rounds. Any further retirements would seriously harm his championship effort and the need to score victories would be a must for the Cypriot this weekend.
Another driver also in need to score victories this year is the defending champion Martin Doubek. Doubek has been quietly consistent in both EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2 so far, but he has been somewhat overshadowed by his new teammate in EN2 given that Liam has scored two wins compared to Doubek’s zero.
Admittedly, he was in position to win at Vallelunga 2 had it not been for his ambitious move at Tornantino that costed both him and Alberto Naska a potential shot at the victory and the three tracks that series would visit this year – Most, Zolder, and Rijeka – are his best tracks from last year, so the fight for the title is far from the over for the home crowd favorite.
Another former EuroNASCAR 2 champion in Ulysse Delsaux has also been quietly consistent in his performances this year. After a relatively disappointing year in EuroNASCAR PRO last year, the 2018 EN2 champion has been finding his strides in the lower division once more as he racked up strong finishes to put himself in the outside position for the title battle this year.
Delsaux has yet to reach the highs that he reached on his title winning season just yet, but Most was the track where he scored his career-best ENPRO finish back in 2019 and his highest qualifying position in ENPRO last year. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Delsaux can replicate the highs from the previous years on this week’s set of races.
Tuomas Pöntinen, whom we previously mentioned, is currently only 15th in the standings and yet his results have placed him as a surprise title contender for the 2022 season.
With 125 points scored after his debut at Brands Hatch, Pöntinen is on pace to match the results scored by the “Big 5” drivers this year and with the Finn having already declared his intention to fight for the podium once more after his maiden podium at Vallelunga, EuroNASCAR fans must keep an eye out for the Yokohama Advan-styled No. 23 Barot’s Ford Mustang this week.
Within the sub-championships, championship leader Naska is still at the top of the Rookie Trophy standings and given the impressive performances from the trio of Naska, Liam and Pöntinen so far this year, expect the trio of them to be the leading contenders for the win in the sub-classification for the series debutants.
That being said, keep an eye out for SpeedHouse’s Paul Jouffreau as he aims to improve his pace in the second half of the season after his surprise podium finish at Vallelunga.
In the Legend Trophy, there will be a shake-up at the top as Melvin de Groot will be missing this week’s round due to a personal schedule clash that prevented him from competing in the No. 69 Team Bleekemolen Ford.
With de Groot using both of his joker rounds this week, a huge opportunity has been presented to the Marko Stipp Motorsport duo of Yevgen Sokolovskiy and Miguel Gomes to earn as many points as possible so that they can catch up to the dominant Dutch driver.
CAAL Racing’s Luli del Castello would once again enter this week’s NASCAR GP Czech Republic as the leading driver in the Lady Trophy as she aims to build upon her first Top-10 finish at Vallelunga to strengthen her position as the top female driver in the EN2 division.
Her closest rival, Buggyra ZM Racing’s Aliyyah Koloc, would also aim to build upon from her own maiden Top-10 finish at Vallelunga to chase down the 19-point deficit that the Emirati driver currently has to her Italian rival in the standings.
On one final note, Matthias Hauer will be entered to this week’s round at Most after the Preliminary Entry List listed Neo Lambert as the EuroNASCAR 2 driver of SpeedHouse’s No. 40 Ford Mustang.
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric.