Racingfuel Motorsport reflects on their debut EuroNASCAR season as they learned several important lessons that will be taken into consideration for future seasons, said team owner Ferruccio Finkbohner in an exclusive interview with us.
At last month’s Fracasso NASCAR GP Croatia in Rijeka’s Automotodrom Grobnik, Racingfuel Motorsport completed their first season in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. The team finished 19th in the Teams Championship with the No. 94 entry, while the team’s lead driver – and sole full-time driver – Alina Loibnegger finished 17th in the EuroNASCAR 2 standings after securing three overall top-10 finishes and a second place finish in the Lady Trophy.
It was a challenging year for Racingfuel, a sentiment shared by Racingfuel’s team owner Ferruccio Finkbohner, who admitted that the 2022 season has been a difficult one for his team in our interview with him.
“It wasn’t an easy season for us,” said Ferruccio. “We had a difficult season as we had a lot of driver changes, had to learn about the cars and the championship, and had people that started this project quit shortly before the season started.”
“Nevertheless, we had good results for the first year with a P5 finish in the PRO category being the best in PRO and in EN2 we had 4 top-10 finishes and a win in the Lady Trophy, along with a second place in the overall Lady Trophy with our driver Alina Loibnegger. As a new team in the series, I would say we managed well but surely we came to be more on the top steps of the podium.”
One of the challenges that the team had to experience is a lack of a full-time driver, as Alina was the only Racingfuel driver that competed in all 12 races of 2022. Christoph Lenz did compete in the majority of the rounds, but the team also signed several drivers that only took part in certain rounds such as Lucas Luhr, Matthew Ellis, and Yann Zimmer to fill in the vacated entries that the team had during the race weekend.
Ferruccio revealed that the team initially had signed two full-time drivers that were forced to either compete part-time or back out of their deal due to personal reasons, forcing the team to look for drivers in “basically every event” of the 2022 season.
“The biggest challenge we had, which at the end was also a chance, was that two drivers who were planning to do the full season with us couldn’t attend the season because of personal reasons,” said Ferruccio on the team’s driver situation. “We had to look for drivers for basically every event, but thankfully we managed to attract many drivers and champions from other series to the EuroNASCAR.”
“We had a TCR Intercontinental Champion (Constantin Kletzer), a GT1 World Champion and Porsche official driver (Lucas Luhr), an ADAC GT Champion Driver (Remo Lips), a driver who won several GT3 Races and Spa 24 Hours in his category (Christoph Lenz), the only British Driver in the EuroNASCAR Brands Hatch race (Matthew Ellis) and also a former EuroNASCAR race winner in the name of Yann Zimmer.”
“As mentioned, this was a challenge but it’s also a chance for us to show the team and the championship to the drivers. The situation did make it difficult to gather a lot of data, as we had changing drivers and so we received different feedback. In the end, we are very confident that we understand the cars and know we can put it together ready for race wins.”
Prior to the team joining EuroNASCAR with their self-owned team, Racingfuel – through parent company RacingFuel.biz – has been involved as sponsors in various major racing championships such as DTM, ADAC GT Masters and 24H Series.
The series mentioned are capable of attracting thousands of fans to their events, something that Ferruccio finds impressive that EuroNASCAR was able to pull in the same number of fans to visit the races when compared to the numbers that the likes of DTM and ADAC GT produced.
“We were very impressed about the amount of spectators that the series was able to gather on the race weekends,” said Ferruccio on the fan turnout in 2022. “Counting the numbers, we are up there with the big ones like DTM or ADAC GT Masters in terms of spectators, which would need to be emphasized more in my opinion.”
“On track we were impressed how competitive the series is. We had very small margins between the cars in the top 10. Some races we had up to 15 cars in 1.5 seconds which is very good.”
Racingfuel has yet to decide their plans for 2023 just yet, but the team is in the process of dismantling and rebuilding their Chevrolet Camaro’s for the next season. Ferruccio also adds that he wanted to make sure that Racingfuel have their driver’s confirmed first before the team announced their 2023 plans.
“At the moment, we have completely dismantled the cars and are preparing them from scratch. We are planning the next season in the EuroNASCAR but haven’t confirmed the drivers yet,” said Ferruccio on future plans. “What we won’t do is start the season without confirmed drivers for the season!”
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese / Klemen Sofric.