Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

World of EuroNASCAR’s third Race Preview for the 2023 NASCAR GP Spain takes a look at who is likely going to steal the show and take the first step on the path of becoming this year’s EuroNASCAR 2 champion.

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 final part of our three-part Race Preview, focusing on the EuroNASCAR 2 title race. Part 1 was focused on all of the drivers that are entered on the Entry List, while Part 2 was focused on our preview for the EuroNASCAR PRO title race.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

For the first time since the 2016 season, there will be no title defenses made by the reigning champions in both EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2. In EuroNASCAR 2’s case, reigning champion Liam Hezemans will not defend his title because he will be promoted to EuroNASCAR PRO by his team Hendriks Motorsport.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

The door is thus open to find the suitable candidates for the EuroNASCAR 2 championship in 2023. One name that certainly suits the bill is CAAL Racing’s Italian YouTube sensation, Alberto Naska.

Naska’s performance last year has certainly made people notice his talents behind the wheel of an EuroNASCAR stock car. He was a dominant force in the junior division last year, winning five races and only lost the title to Liam after he led the championship standings for most of the season.

For the Turin-born driver who has more than 700 thousand people subscribed to his YouTube channel, the goal for 2023 is simple: Secure the EuroNASCAR 2 championship trophy and avenge the loss that he suffered in 2022.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

It certainly wouldn’t be a simple journey for Naska, however, as one of his closest rivals from the 2022 season has made a surprise return to the junior division: Vladimiros Tziortzis.

Tziortzis was due to make the step up to EuroNASCAR PRO in 2023, just like what Liam had done in the off-season. However, the Preliminary Entry List for the Valencia NASCAR Fest revealed that Tziortzis is going to be competing double duty in Academy Motorsport’s No. 5 ENEOS FJ.

Tziortzis’ pace cannot be denied, as he proved himself to be the king of one lap pace with a tally of seven pole positions and five fastest laps in 2022 – more than anyone else in the grid last year. He also has a proven track record of being dominant at Valencia, and ideally he would want to showcase that again in this year’s event.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

Another returning protagonist ready to spoil the party for Naska and Tziortzis is the only former EuroNASCAR 2 champion in the grid: Martin Doubek.

Doubek was a consistent top-5 contender in 2022, but he ultimately doesn’t have the pace that the “Big 3” have as he was left with a winless title defense. Returning to the Victory Lane would be the correct step for the Czech driver if he wants to become the first-ever two-time EuroNASCAR 2 champion.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

The returning protagonists might have the likeliest chance to become the champion, but the absence of Liam opens up the possibility of another youngster, such as RDV Competition’s Paul Jouffreau, to take his mantle.

Jouffreau was on-pace for a top-5 finish in the standings last year before a late season struggle fizzled him down to ninth place at the end of the season. Despite this, the experience gained is certainly going to motivate Jouffreau to perform better with Franck Violas’ team, who had previously won the EN2 title with Ulysse Delsaux in 2018.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Steven van Eckeren

Another driver that could take Liam’s mantle would be his replacement at Hendriks Motorsport, Gil Linster. The Luxembourger might have only scored his first career pole position and podium finish last year, but he already has plenty of experience in stock car racing both in Europe and in the United States.

Through the combination of his experience, a strong car provided by a powerhouse team in Hendriks, and a solid financial footing thanks to his Binance and Celsius sponsorship, this year could be the year where Linster finally broke through and became a top contender in EuroNASCAR 2.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

Someone else that could be on the cusp of a breakthrough in 2023 is Double V Racing’s Patrick Schober. Schober made his debut last year and with his tenth place finish in the standings, he demonstrated that Double V Racing is ready to become an independent team capable of fighting at the top-half of the field.

Armed by endless testing done by his family team Procar Motorsport, who owned a Ford Mustang EuroNASCAR chassis that Schober often drives at the team’s home base in Slovakiaring, Schober is poised to level up his game on his sophomore year in the sport.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese

2023 could also be the year where veteran contenders like Melvin de Groot and Claudio Remigio Cappelli put themselves in the title race. They might be seniors compared to the drivers listed above, but they certainly have proved to be fast drivers in the world of EuroNASCAR.

De Groot’s performance in 2022 has proved that his surprise results as a replacement driver for Michael Bleekemolen in 2021 was not a fluke. With five top-5 finishes and eight top-10 finishes in 2022, de Groot would like to continue his consistent finishes if he wants to put a stake in the championship race this year.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

Cappelli quietly became one of the surprise packages of the EuroNASCAR 2 division after he made the decision to run double duty last year. He went the extra mile by doing something that has never been done before, as he became the first driver in EuroNASCAR history to race for two different teams in the two divisions that he raced with.

It was a roller coaster year for the driver with the best facial hair in EuroNASCAR, but when things did go right he proved himself to be a consistent top-5 finisher. Now with his efforts solely focused in EuroNASCAR 2, Cappelli is aiming to give his best with Race Art Technology’s No. 18 Chevrolet Camaro. 

Credits: Max Mason

In the battle of the sub-championships, Rookie Trophy would see Yann Schar, Thomas Toffel, Nick Schneider, Jack Davidson, Sven van Laere, Max Mason, Gino Miedico and Nick Strickler compete for the honor of EN2’s Rookie of the Year. The judgement on who is the best among them remains to be seen.

The Lady Trophy was, sadly, a foregone conclusion. With Luli del Castello and Aliyyah Koloc not returning to the championship and Alina Loibnegger moving to ENPRO, only Arianna Casoli remains in the sub-trophy contention and thus, she would be declared as the Lady Trophy winner by default at Valencia.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric

Finding a winner in Legend Trophy, however, is going to be difficult. The aforementioned de Groot and Cappelli would be your strongest candidates, given they have proved that they can finish on the podium in EuroNASCAR’s unpredictable division.

There’s also 13 other drivers that would like to lay their hands in the top step of the sub-classification for drivers aged 40 and above. Some of whom will be racing here in addition to other trophies, such as Schar, van Laere, Miedico and Casoli.

The other eight drivers would be competing solely in this sub-championship: Federico Monti, Paolo Valeri, Dario Caso, Matthias Hauer, Eric Quintal, Riccardo Romagnoli, Kenko Miura, Roberto Benedetti and Michael Bleekemolen, the oldest EuroNASCAR driver ever at the age of 73.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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


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