BY GGUIGLIA1 NASCAR.COM OCTOBER 20, 2018
Florian Venturi (#32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang) put himself straight back into the ELITE 2 championship game by winning the first ELITE 2 Final at the legendary Circuit Zolder. The French rookie impressed with a fast pace and survived a dramatic race at the 4km track in Belgium. Ulysse Delsaux (#3 Tepac RDV Competition Toyota Camry) took the points lead with a second place finish after recovering from an early accident while points leader Guillaume Deflandre (#77 Memphis Racing Chevrolet Camaro) was forced to retire.
Venturi, who grabbed his first ever NWES win at Brands Hatch in the regular season, made no mistakes, took the lead on lap 4 and won the race with a margin of 2.9 seconds on Delsaux. The 17-year-old Go Fas Racing driver is now chasing Delsaux by only 8 points before the final race of the season and holds a big advantage in the Rookie Cup.
"I’m so happy, but the championship is not over yet," said Venturi, who earned Go Fas Racing’s first Euro NASCAR win at Brands Hatch in June. "I am totally focused on tomorrow’s race, because the battle will be decided by that Final. I don’t know what to expect but I want to win it! My big goal is to win the championship."
In the early stages of the race Wilfried Boucenna (#37 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang) took the lead after pole sitter Guillaume Dumarey (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro) was forced to the pits at the end of the first lap due to an issue to his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro. Dumarey returned to the race five laps down and posted the fastest lap of the race, earning the pole position for Sunday’s ELITE 2 Final 2. Delsaux lost the control of his car in a battle with Venturi for second and was running eleventh after it, but fought his way back to the podium in spectacular fashion, also taking advantage of a caution.
"It was a very tough race, because of the battle with Venturi," said the Frenchman. "He surprised me with his braking and so I spun when I was trying to overtake him. I don’t really know if we touched. After that I focused on recovering and to gain back as many positions as possible. I’m very happy for getting back on the podium after this accident and tomorrow I want to win the title."
Kenko Miura (#2 Alex Caffi Motorsport Ford Mustang) grabbed the first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series podium of his career by finishing third. The Japanese driver perfectly carved his way in a chaotic finish and crossed the finish line behind Delsaux.
"It was a really crazy race", said the Alex Caffi Motorsport driver after stepping down from his first podium. "The car was very good, thanks to my team. I was always looking for a chance to overtake the driver ahead of me. It worked out and I’m really happy to be on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series podium for the first time in my career!"
The finish was dramatic for championship leader Guillaume Deflandre (#77 Memphis Racing Chevrolet Camaro). The Belgian pulled off the the track due to an issue with the #77 Chevrolet Camaro while he was running second and saw his title aspirations evaporate in the blink of an eye. Deflandre has now to hope for a mistake by the drivers who are in front of him in the overall standings to have a shot at the 2018 NWES title.
Gil Linster (#44 CAAL Racing Toyota Camry) ended up fourth, recording his second top-5 of the year ahead of Wilfried Boucenna, who had to serve a drive through penalty for a starting procedure infringement while he was leading the race.
Massimiliano Lanza (#41 The Club Motorsports Ford Mustang) was sixth ahead of Pierluigi Veronesi (#27 BVR Motorsport Ford Mustang), Maxim Pampel (#7 Belgium Driver Academy Ford Mustang) and Jerry De Weerdt (#78 Braxx Racing Ford Mustang) who won the Legend Trophy. The Belgian edged Francesco Parli (#31 Race Art Tech – Blu Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro), who rounded out the top-10. Arianna Casoli (#54 CAAL Racing Toyota Camry) won the Lady Cup by finishing 13th, making Sunday’s race decisive for the Cup’s final classification.
After a contact with Maciej Dreszer (#56 CAAL Racing Toyota Camry) Felipe Rabello (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro) crashed hard into the tire barrier at the start-finish straight. The Brazilian was okay but the PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro suffered heavy damage and the team went straight to work to repair the car for the Sunday races.
The ELITE 2 Division will be back in action on Sunday at 11:10 am CET. The championship is on the line with Delsaux and Venturi fighting for the title. The last race of the ELITE 2 season will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the Euro NASCAR Facebook page, Youtube channel and Twitter profile, on Motorsport.tv and on a vast network of websites and social media profiles.