While Loris Hezemans showed the impressive pace of the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang in free practice at the Autodromo di Franciacorta in Italy in the ELITE 1 Division, Racers Motorsport driver Nicholas Risitano was fastest among the ELITE 2 Division drivers on Friday. The stage for an exciting qualifying session is set.
Hezemans lapped the 2,5 kilometer of the Autodromo di Franciacorta in 1:13.138, edging Alon Day, who won three of the four NWES races held at the Italian track since its inception in the Euro NASCAR calendar. The Israeli was a mere 0.018 seconds slower than Hezemans. In the first session, the reigning Euro NASCAR Champion appeared to be focusing mainly on long run pace.
Marc Goossens showed a strong pace in practice. The Braxx Racing driver set a time of 1:13.198, less than one hundredth of a second behind the leader. Goossens sits eighth in the ELITE 1 Division standings after a tough weekend in the Valencia season opener.
Frederic Gabillon, who had some issues in the second session, ended up fourth. In the first session he posted the best time overall in his very last lap. The gap from Hezemans in the combined result was 0.384 seconds. PK Carsport driver Stienes Longin, who sits second in the championship standings, rounded out the top-5 by being 0.410 seconds slower than Hezemans.
Jacques Villeneuve made a strong debut at the Autodromo di Franciacorta by closing practice in seventh place, thanks to his 1:13,606 lap. It was not a completely new track for the former Formula One and Indy 500 winner as the Canadian tested a EuroNASCAR car at Franciacorta during one of the NWES Recruitment Days. Points leader and double Valencia winner Ander Vilarino was ninth in his #48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang.
Nicholas Risitano quickest in the ELITE 2 Division
Nicholas Risitano, who grabbed his first ever NASCAR Whelen Euro Series win at the season opener in Valencia, was fastest on Friday in the ELITE 2 Division free practice sessions. The Italian lapped the Franciacorta track in 1:14.363 minutes, besting the other Valencia winner Giorgio Maggi on the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Mustang by 0.220 seconds.
Florian Venturi returned to prominence at the Autodromo di Franciacorta by driving the third fastest lap. The Frenchman, one of the strongest candidates for the ELITE 2 Division title, experienced a tough season opener at Valencia and is only 29th in the ELITE 2 Division standings.
Debutant Lasse Sorensen on the #66 Dexwet-df1 Racing Camaro was fourth in his first ever NWES practice sessions. NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Serie Rookie of the Year Myatt Snider ended up fifth ahead of Sorensen’ teammate Justin Kunz, lapping the track in 1:14.871 in his Racing Engineering Ford Mustang.
Andre Castro, whose first practice session came to a premature stop due to a problem to his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro, was eighth in the combined free practice results. The American was 0.669 seconds slower than Risitano. The PK Carsport driver showed great potential in his first two Euro NASCAR races ever, coming one corner short of his maiden win.
The great show of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will resume tomorrow with the qualifying session at 9:50 am and Round 3 of both Divisions. Qualifying and both races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the Euro NASCAR Youtube channel and Facebook page, on Motorsport.tv and on a vast network of websites and social media profiles.