Despite a tough weekend saw him unable to score a top-10 finish at Circuit Zolder, CAAL Racing’s Max Lanza is happy that he was able to regain the lead in Challenger Trophy once more and will be focusing his efforts for the season finale at Rijeka. 

The NASCAR GP Belgium at Circuit Zolder presented a huge opportunity for CAAL Racing’s Max Lanza in his bid to win the Challenger Trophy on his debut season in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ top EuroNASCAR PRO class.

Each driver is allowed to drop two of their worst results in their final standings tally and for Lanza, his worst result happens to be a double DNS at Brands Hatch. While the double DNS has left Lanza on the backfoot in the Challenger Trophy race for most of the season, the fact that his worst results were a double DNS meant that he effectively is not subjected to dropped points and thus can gain the theoretical maximum of 88 points at Zolder.

The weekend at Zolder proved to be a tough one for Lanza, however. Lanza struggled to find a strong pace all weekend long and can only finish 17th in the combined Practice timesheets on Friday. Saturday’s Qualifying ended up worse for Lanza as his time of 1:52.329 in the damp, slippery track was only fast enough for 19th on the grid, having struggled to find both grip and enough clean air to set a fast lap time in the No. 88 Chevrolet.

The race that followed looked promising initially as he was able to move his way up to 14th position in the early stages of the race, but a brief visit to the pits at half-distance ended his chances for a strong finish as he would eventually cross the finish line in 21st place. 

Thankfully for the Italian, it was a better day for him in the Sunday race as he was able to move up from 19th in the grid to 12th place in the end. It was not without its issues as he was held back by the major multi-car incident on the final restart because Lanza got stuck behind the crashing cars, causing him to lose a chance to secure his fifth top-10 finish of the season.

Despite this, the results that he scored is enough to put him back on the joint lead of the Challenger Trophy. Lanza and Fabrizio Armetta are level on points with 194 points, but Lanza is currently losing on the tiebreaker because Armetta had a better highest finishing result.

“It was a very difficult weekend, staying focused is not easy when everything seems to be going wrong,” said Lanza on his weekend at Zolder. “We did not give up and we kept our mind to the goal, even if sometimes we had to sacrifice the pure performance. We have monitored our rivals and at the end we were right: we came back to the lead of the Challenger Trophy!”

With the season finale at Rijeka on 29-30 October giving double points to everyone participating, Lanza is wary that he and his team needs to be performing at their best if they want to bring home the top overall Challenger Trophy honors at the end of the season. 

“It was a long and complicated season that gave us lots of positive things. Now we have to stay focused on Grobnik and its two races with double points. It’s a gamble and nothing can go wrong, we must be simply perfect, we have to do what we know and we show we know how to do it. Fingers crossed! We completed a fantastic comeback, we need to do ‘just’ the final step,” said Lanza on the upcoming season finale.

Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric.

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