Intense rain fell over Circuit Zolder in the opening day of the 2019 Euro NASCAR Finals and while five-time Zolder winner Alon Day was fastest in the ELITE 1 Division Free Practice at the wheel of his #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet, Lasse Soerensen clocked the fastest lap in the ELITE 2 Division sessions.
In the ELITE 1 Division, Day clocked a 1:50.592 lap leaving Stienes Longin only 0.034 seconds behind. With his title ambitions gone, the Israeli’s goal for the weekend is to tie Ander Vilarino’s all-time record of 22 NWES wins. On the other end, Longin still has a shot of winning the championship if the two title contenders – Hezemans and Rocca – get in trouble on Saturday but can’t afford the slightest mistake in front of his home crowd.
Both championship favorites Loris Hezemans and Nicolo Rocca were not able to keep up with Day’s pace in practice and ended up respectively eighth and 18th quickest. It was a tough Friday for the Dutchman as he faced technical problems on his #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang in First Practice. The championship leader will have to improve his performance on Saturday to fight for the win at Circuit Zolder.
His closest rival Rocca was only 18th at the wheel of his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro. The Italian will need to start at the front to overcome the 21-point deficit separating him from Hezemans.
Marc Goossens finished third in the combined results on his home soil being only 0.133 seconds shy of Day. The Braxx Racing driver was quickest in Final Practice, the wetter of the two Free Practice sessions. Racing a partial schedule in 2019, Goossens turned a total of 31 laps to get back in the race rhythm.
Racers Motorsport’s Gianmarco Ercoli was fourth ahead of Dexwet-Df1 Racing’s Guillaume Deflandre, who rounded out the top-5. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen finished sixth at the wheel of the Team Bleekemolen Ford Mustang, which changed from number #69 to #70 to celebrate Michael Bleekemolen’s 70th birthday.
Frederic Gabillon followed in seventh position ahead of Hezemans. Dylan Derdaele was ninth in his comeback at Zolder ahead of three-time champion Ander Vilarino, who closed the top-10 on his #48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang. Henri Tuomaala reaffirmed his lead in the Challenger Trophy by beating his competitors with the 15th quickest time.
Soerensen masters the rain in the ELITE 2 Division
Lasse Soerensen was the dominating driver in the ELITE 2 Division on Friday, underlining his title ambitions in the opening sessions of the Zolder Finals. The Dexwet-Df1 Racing driver sits second in the championship standings, eleven points behind Giorgio Maggi, who instead struggled in the rain in practice.
Soerensen clocked a 1:51.421 lap and finished ahead of Hugo De Sadeleer by a whopping 1.851 seconds. No driver on the grid was able to keep up with Soerensen’s impressive pace.
NWES veteran Martin Doubek ended up third at the wheel of his #7 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang with a gap of 1.891 seconds from Soerensen. Vittorio Ghirelli finished fourth ahead of championship leader Giorgio Maggi. The Hendriks Motorsport driver will be forced to catch up with the Dane on Saturday to defend his points lead.
Jesse Vartiainen was sixth confirming his strong form during the Semi Finals at the Hockenheimring, where the Finnish Alex Caffi Motorsport driver grabbed his best career results with two fourth places. Ben Creanor was seventh ahead of Justin Kunz, the most experienced NWES ELITE 2 Division driver on the grid at Zolder, Pol van Pollaert and Myatt Snider. Ian Eric Waden was the best Legend Trophy driver in 15th.
NWES rookie Niels Albert crashed hard in the first session, forcing his teammate Stienes Longin to skip the second ELITE 1 Division practice. The PK Carsport team will have a lot of work to do to get the #11 Camaro back on the track on Saturday.
Qualifying and all races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES YouTube and Facebook pages, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.