The Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy will be the theater of an historic milestone for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series: the venue located in the vicinity of Italy’s capital Rome will host EuroNASCAR’s 250th race on Sunday when the EuroNASCAR PRO drivers will close a spectacular NASCAR GP Italy . Vallelunga has been part of the championship since 2020 and has produced some thrilling and exciting memories so far. In 2021, none other than Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve won both races and with his Sunday win, Martin Doubek was crowned EuroNASCAR 2 champion last season.
The inaugural races at the four kilometer track in the 2020 NWES season were won by Loris Hezemans and Gianmarco Ercoli in EuroNASCAR PRO and Tobias Dauenhauer in EuroNASCAR 2. Ercoli is poised to score another win on his home soil and gain ground in the overall standings.
EuroNASCAR PRO: Rocca leading the way
In EuroNASCAR PRO, all drivers are chasing Nicolo Rocca. The Italian made a stellar start to the season at Valencia and Brands Hatch, winning one race and never finishing worse than fourth. The 28-year-old is leading the overall standings by 18 points on Alon Day, who won twice but was penalized after a collision with Ercoli at Brands Hatch.
The rivalry between the two stars will definitely spice up the Italian weekend. Day won 7 times in Italy – including a phenomenal 5 out 6 races at Franciacorta – but never at Vallelunga and will be poised to add it to his resume and grab his 30th career win.
Alexander Graff follows Day in third place after he conquered his maiden NWES win at Brands Hatch. The Swede in the colors of Speedhouse is having the best season of his career so far and looks ready to contend again. Reigning EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Martin Doubek is fourth, tied in points with NWES veteran Frederic Gabillon.
After two Junior Trophy wins in the UK and his first overall podium finish in EuroNASCAR PRO, Race Art Technology’s Giorgio Maggi is leading the classification dedicated to drivers aged 25 and under in sixth overall. Romain Iannetta is ranked seventh ahead of Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. After the crash at the Indy Circuit, Ercoli is tied in points with Patrick Lemarie for ninth.
After scoring a podium finish in Brands Hatch, Doubek is no longer part of the Challenger Trophy and therefore, three drivers share the lead in the special classification for bronze and silver drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO: Fabrizio Armetta, Henri Tuomaala and Yevgen Sokolovskiy all have 79 points on their tallies and therefore share eleventh place as well as the Challenger Trophy lead in the standings.
EuroNASCAR 2: Two rookies versus the experienced driver
EuroNASCAR 2 will once again feature a great mix of rookies and veterans. Alberto Naska leads the EuroNASCAR 2 standings after two impressive outings in Valencia and Brands Hatch. The Italian CAAL Racing driver collected 150 points and two consecutive wins and showed his killer instinct in the UK when he passed Vladimiros Tziortzis with a late move for the lead.
Naska leads Liam Hezemans, who steps into the footprints of his older brother and two-time NWES Champion Loris Hezemans. The Hendriks Motorsport driver scored his maiden EuroNASCAR 2 win at Brands with two phenomenal overtime moves. The Dutchman is only eleven points shy of Naska but both rookies have no experience in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Vallelunga.
That’s where Tziortzis has a distinct advantage in his Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport car. The Cypriot, who won the 2022 opening round at Valencia, raced at Vallelunga four times and earned two top-10 finishes in 2020, but lived an unfortunate weekend last year – despite a strong pace – including a first-lap crash in the final race of the season.
Tziortzis is tied in points with Doubek, who is defending his EuroNASCAR 2 title and won one of two races in 2021, while 2018 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Ulysse Delsaux completes the top-5. Melvin de Groot is not only sixth overall but also in the lead in the Legend Trophy standings for drivers aged 40 and more. The Dutchman has five points more than NWES returnee Gil Linster, who’s tied in points with rookie Paul Jouffreau and Legend Trophy contender Miguel Gomes. Rookie Patrick Schober rounds out the top-10. The best Lady Trophy driver is Luli Del Castello in 14th overall.
The regularity-based Club Challenge will be back in action at Vallelunga with the second event of the season. Rookie Neo Lambert and reigning champion Gordon Barnes share the lead points.
Rocca mr. Consistency – Nicolo Rocca has an outstanding 17-race streak open. The last time the Italian finished outside the top-10 was in December 2020. The record belongs to Ander Vilarino with 24 consecutive races between 2012 and 2013.
Several drivers set for home race – Italy is the most represented country on the NWES grid. Vallelunga will be the home race for no less than 21 drivers across the two championships.
Caso, Hezemans and Cappelli to pull double duties – In addition to Martin Doubek and Yevgen Sokolovskiy, Dario Caso, Liam Hezemans and Claudio Cappelli will also pull double duties at Vallelunga. Cappelli will also go for the triple by racing in one of the event’s support series.
Special race for Naska – Alberto Naska has ignited the love for NASCAR racing among the Italian fans. Thousands of his followers are expected to visit the Autodromo di Vallelunga to see their hero compete on home soil.
Ellis and Pontinen return – After making their debut in Brands Hatch, Matthew Ellis and Tuomas Pontinen will both return at Vallelunga, driving respectively for Racingfuel Motorsport and Team Bleekemolen
Silvestrini to make NASCAR debut – 37-year-old Paolo Maria Silvestrini will make his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series debut driving the # 25 Chevrolet Camaro for Not Only Motorsport