The winner of an exciting 100-lap ELITE 1 Round 9 oval race at Raceway Venray is Loris Hezemans. The Dutchman moved into the lead on lap 86 and fended off all attacks until the checkered flag. Driving the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang, the 22-year old son of motorsport icon Toine Hezemans grabbed his third NWES career win, the second of the season and the first on oval.
After starting second, Hezemans spent the first half of the race in a fierce battle for the lead with polesitter Jacques Villeneuve. The Canadian defended the lead and it was Hezemans who ended up losing a spot on lap 54 in favour of Stienes Longin.
Hezemans moved back to second in restart on lap 73 when Villeneuve and Longin collided ahead of him and the Canadian slipped down the order. The Dutchman then hunted down Longin for the lead and made a brilliant move to overtake the 27-year-old Leuven native. The Hendriks Motorsport driver also topped the Junior Trophy classification.
"It couldn’t have gone any better for us here at Raceway Venray, but I’m still a little bit frustrated about missing the pole position," said the race winner. "I really wanted to give my fans here at my home race a great spectacle. It was 100 laps of action and I had some great duels with Stienes and especially Jacques. I’m very happy and I thank my team for the great job they did all season long."
The contact between Longin and Villeneuve resulted in penalty for the Belgian, who crossed the finish line second but was demoted to 13th place. Nicolo Rocca ended up second and secured his third podium finish of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season. Despite the worst result of his season, Longin retained the ELITE 1 championship lead with seven points on Hezemans, who took over the second place from Rocca.
"It was a nice and clean race," said Rocca, who will enter the playoffs eight points behind the leader. "I was focused since this morning to get into the rhythm and to score a solid result here at Venray. The restarts were really good and I never lost a position. The contact between Stienes and Jacques helped me a lot. I was told about Stienes’s penalty so I relaxed in the very last laps and came home a good second."
Jacques Villeneuve led the race until lap 72 but fell back to fourth after the contact with the #11 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro. Despite some damage to his #32 Go Fas Racing Camaro, the former Indy 500 winner grabbed his second NWES podium finish after being on the podium at Franciacorta in May.
"The car was really hard to drive in the end, but it was good overall," said Villeneuve, who led the most laps. "It was very loose and it took always three or four laps to get up to full speed. Stienes was a little bit too aggressive and I had to back out. I ended up in the ‘marbles’ and the choice was to hit him or the wall. It doesn’t matter, as I had a great battle with Loris. That’s what we love, clean racing and intense duels."
Three-time champion Ander Vilarino was fourth on his #48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang and scored important points in the last ELITE 1 race of the regular season. Frederic Gabillon wasn’t able to contend for the win but closed the top-5 driving the #3 RDV Competition Chevrolet Camaro.
Vilarino’s teammate Romain Iannetta was sixth ahead of Ulysse Delsaux. The Frenchman was second in the Junior Trophy classification and was rewarded with four bonus points for gaining the most positions during the 100-lap long race at Raceway Venray.
Reigning champion Alon Day brought home a solid eighth place edging Salvador Tineo and Henri Tuomaala, who topped the Challenger Trophy classification for the sixth time.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will be back in action on September 21-22 at the iconic Hockenheimring, Germany with four double-points races. The 3.6 kilometer road course will host the Euro NASCAR Semi Finals for the second consecutive time.