Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

World of EuroNASCAR’s second Race Preview of the 2023 NASCAR GP Spain previews the upcoming battle between the best stock car racers in Europe that are set to be happening in EuroNASCAR PRO, the series’ top division.

After six months of off-season, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is ready to kickstart their V8 motors this weekend for the 2023 season opening round, the 10th anniversary edition of the Valencia NASCAR Fest at Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

The special edition of Valencia NASCAR Fest promises to bring the excitement and unique American-inspired atmosphere to a whole new level. Helping to bring the spectacle to the Spanish race fans is the field of 29 cars and 53 drivers that have been announced as part of the Preliminary Entry List across all classes.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

This Preview article is the second of a three-part article, with Part 2 being focused on the EuroNASCAR PRO title race. The already released Part 1 was focused on all of the drivers that are entered on the Entry List, while the upcoming Part 3 will be focused on our preview for the EuroNASCAR 2 title race.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

A total of 28 drivers is set to be taking part in the EuroNASCAR PRO races at Valencia and shockingly, reigning series champion Alon Day and last year’s runner-up Alexander Graff are not among them.

The 2023 season will mark the end of an era as it will be the first season since 2014 to not feature Alon Day, the only four-time champion in EuroNASCAR and arguably the series’ greatest driver ever.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

This will certainly leave the door open for other drivers to finally win their first EuroNASCAR championship title in 2023. One driver who is poised to do so is CAAL Racing’s Gianmarco Ercoli, the highest finishing driver of 2022 to be competing in this year’s championship.

After coming agonizingly close to the title in the previous two seasons, the 2023 season could be the year where Ercoli would finally realize his dream as the champion of Europe’s most prestigious stock car racing championship. 

Ercoli’s record of three wins that he scored last year was second only to Day, and he always finished in the podium on the races where he didn’t suffer an incident. Continuing to build on this performance will provide Ercoli with the best start possible for the new season.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

Another driver that will be aiming for a better year in 2023 is Race Art Technology’s Giorgio Maggi. Maggi enjoyed a breakthrough season last year as the four podiums that he scored was enough to secure fifth in the standings.

Now in his fifth season in the series, 2023 might be the year where Giorgio Maggi finally visits the Victory Lane in EuroNASCAR’s top division. A win at Valencia is certainly going to be the motivation boost that the Swiss driver needs to sustain a push to the championship glory.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

Championship glory is also what Sebastiaan Bleekemolen will be aiming for in his fourth season in ENPRO division. Building upon Team Bleekemolen’s success from last year is going to be the key for the veteran Dutch driver if he wants to have a shot for the title.

Last year, Sebastiaan finally broke his duck when he secured a dominant victory at Autodrom Most and he helped Team Bleekemolen to finish fourth in the Team’s Championship. Improving the number of his Victory Lane visits will be doing wonders for the team, as they look to establish themselves as a proper championship contender in 2023.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

To boost Team Bleekemolen’s chances, the team have signed Vittorio Ghirelli to strengthen their squad. Ghirelli is a known quantity for championship contention, having been crowned as the 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 champion and was in contention for the ENPRO title in 2021 when he crashed on the final race at Vallelunga.

Ghirelli had to experience a rollercoaster year with Not Only Motorsport last year, but with a new team and renewed motivation, the Italian is ready to fight at the top once again. With his birthday on 9 May coming soon, a victory at Valencia would provide him with the best birthday present possible.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

For Ulysse Delsaux, he will be hoping that 2023 is going to be the year where he makes his breakthrough in EuroNASCAR’s top division. The 2018 EN2 champion has had three seasons in the top class previously and with this year being his first for SpeedHouse Racing, the talented Frenchman is ready to give his best for his new team.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

The Hendriks duo of Liam Hezemans and Martin Doubek are another pair of EuroNASCAR 2 champions that is ready to put in their bets for the title race in EuroNASCAR PRO.

For Liam, the reigning EN2 champion showed promise in his eventful ENPRO appearances last year and with the guidance of his older brother Loris, Liam is surely ready to put up a fight against some of the best in the world.

In Doubek’s case, 2022 was the season where he finally visited the podium in the top class after years of trying. Could 2023 become the year where the Czech driver will be able to put the Czech flag on the top step of the podium?

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

Experience is going to be the main betting chip placed by series veterans Marc Goossens and Frédéric Gabillon. For Goossens, a return to CAAL Racing should give the one-time race winner a chance to fight at the top after a year full of struggles in 2022.

In Gabillon’s case, it can’t be denied that he had been struggling to find the magic that brought him to three runner-up finishes in the past few years. Fred Gabillon is still Fred Gabillon however, and he’s certainly going to be putting his experience to good use in the No. 3 RDV Ford.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

On the other end of the scale, can the rookies make a strong impression? In the rookie class of 2023, the most potent of them is arguably going to be the pair of EN2 race winners that Academy Motorsport have signed to their team: Advait Deodhar and Vladimiros Tziortzis.

Academy have proven themselves to be capable race winners in ENPRO thanks to the wins scored by Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Lemarie in the past two seasons. With Tziortzis reporting a strong pre-season testing for Alex Caffi and Federico Monti’s team, expect Academy to be a team that surprises people a lot in 2023.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

There are two drivers that could spoil the party for the potential new champions, however. The first is the returning Anthony Kumpen, a former two-time EuroNASCAR champion who is back for his first full-season campaign since 2017.

Kumpen has been busy on the sidelines during his four-year long suspension, but he returned with a bang on last year’s round at Circuit Zolder. He showed at Zolder that he has not lost his speed, and this could spell danger for all drivers that are looking to sit on the champion’s throne in 2023.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

Another driver that could spoil the party is Lucas Lasserre, who is back as an owner-driver for SpeedHouse Racing. Lasserre, who was in the sidelines in 2022 to focus on team management, is also a former two-time champion in the series, but he has yet to win a championship title after NASCAR acquired the series in 2012.

With two third-place finishes in the standings after he made his return in 2017, Lasserre has shown that he hasn’t lost his edge against the stronger and more competitive field of the modern EuroNASCAR field. 

Ambitions to visit the Victory Lane would also be on the Frenchman’s mind, as he has yet to actually cross the finish line first in any of the races held in the NASCAR era despite being credited with a victory at Franciacorta back in 2018. 

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

Other drivers to look include Thomas Krasonis, fresh from his late model outing at New Smyrna, and Racingfuel Motorsport’s Alina Loibnegger, who is aiming to become the first full-time female driver in EuroNASCAR’s top class since the late Nathalie Maillet in 2013.

In the battle of the sub-championships, Junior Trophy is expected to have a more closely contested battle after Giorgio Maggi ran away with the sub-classification trophy last year. Maggi will have Delsaux, Tziortzis, Liam, Krasonis, Néo Lambert, and Thomas Dombrowski as his opponents at Valencia.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

For the Challenger Trophy, Henri Tuomaala’s absence would leave the room open for a driver like Fabrizio Armetta, Yevgen Sokolovskiy and Max Lanza to improve on their results in the Trophy following their near-misses in 2022.

Loibnegger, Dario Caso, Riccardo Romagnoli, Stefano Attianese, Christoph Lenz, the rookie Thomas Toffel, and three returning drivers in Michaela Dorcikova, Kenko Miura and Simone Laureti would also be fighting for the win in the sub-classification for bronze and silver-rated drivers.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Disclaimer: Credits for all photos are listed underneath each image.

Last Updated: 4 May 2023


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