The inaugural NASCAR GP Czechia at the Autodrom Most was a rollercoaster of emotions for Loris Hezemans and his Hendriks Motorsport team. A blown engine forced the Dutchman to retire on Saturday, but the Junior Trophy title holder rebounded with a dominant win in ELITE 1 Round 8.
Starting second on the grid, the son of racing icon Toine Hezemans overtook polesitter Nicolo Rocca in the first corner and went on to lead all 17 laps of the race in his #50 Ford Mustang. The Dutchman brought home his first win of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season and also topped the Junior Trophy classification.
"It’s the best way to come back from the disaster we suffered yesterday," said Hezemans, who grabbed his second NWES career win 288 days after his maiden win at Hockenheim. "We had a tough first part of the season but we were also there at the front of the pack. Sometimes I made mistakes on my own and sometimes we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It feels so good to be back in Victory Lane."
Stienes Longin expanded his championship lead by securing his sixth second place finish the year. The PK Carsport driver once again impressed for his consistency and also took advantage of the setback his teammate Rocca suffered. While running less than one second behind Hezemans, the Italian went in the gravel on lap 14 and reported damages to slow his PK Carsport Chevrolet. Rocca salvaged an eleventh place finish under the checkered flag.
"The good thing about all those second places is that we scored a lot of points," said 2016 ELITE 2 champion Longin. "It’s always good to be on the podium. And it’s a nice feeling to be leading the championship after another solid race weekend here at Most."
His teammate Rocca explained the situation that cost him a podium finish: "I made a mistake and picked up a lot of gravel. From then on, it was a fight to shove it away through every corner. In the end I was able to finish the race. It was a good weekend and I had a good car. Now we have to come back stronger next time out."
Before Most, Romain Iannetta’s best season results were two sixth places at Brands Hatch but the Frenchman stepped on the last spot on the podium with a strong performance in his 60th ELITE 1 career start. The Racing Engineering driver had an intense battle with Martin Doubek and Lucas Lasserre throughout the entire race.
Coming from eleventh on the grid, Thomas Ferrando ended up fourth and capped with another solid race his best weekend so far in 2019. The Frenchman was also second in the Junior Trophy classification, while ELITE 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux rounded out the top-5 and the Junior Trophy podium after gaining five spots during the race.
A huge battle for the top-10 positions delighted the Czech fans and local hero Martin Doubek was surely one of the strongest protagonists of the race. The local hero finished sixth despite a ride in the gravel trap while he was pushing his #7 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang to the very limit. He edged Salvador Tineo Arroyo, who came all the way from the 19th starting spot.
Alexander Graff secured his fifth top-10 finish of the season ahead of Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, who rounded out the top-10 in his #69 Ford Mustang.
Henri Tuomaala grabbed his second Challenger Trophy win at Most by ending up twelfth ahead of Dario Caso and Mauro Trione, who joined the Finnish race driver on the podium for the silver-categorized drivers racing in the ELITE 1 Division.
Alon Day and Jacques Villeneuve had another unfortunate race in Euro NASCAR’s debut at Autodrom. Both drivers got tangled in a crash at the start and had to retire from ELITE 1 Round 8. The two were already involved in a collision Saturday.
With 20.750 fans visiting the track over the weekend, the first edition of the NASCAR GP Czechia was a resounding success and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series now heads towards the Netherlands. The only oval racing weekend of the NWES season will take place at Raceway Venray on July 13-14.