The battle for the 2019 ELITE 2 Division title will go down in the history books of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Before the final race of the season, Giorgio Maggi and Lasse Soerensen are separated by one point – the equivalent of half position on track in the playoffs – in favor of the Swiss. Thanks to Soerensen’s spectacular win in ELITE 2 Final 1, whoever of two will finish ahead of the other on Sunday will become the champion.
With five laps to go in a thrilling Saturday race at Circuit Zolder, Soerensen took over the lead from Maggi completing a bold move on the outside in restart. Afterwards the Dane defended his position in a close six-car dash to the finish.
"It was a hell of a race, it’s always hard when you have to pass so many guys," said Soerensen, who will start from pole position in Sunday’s race thanks to the fastest lap on Saturday. "I believed in myself and I knew we could do it in the team! Thanks to the guys at Dexwet-Df1 Racing, the car was fantastic and they made it a lot easier today. To stand here now in the championship battle with only one race left is amazing. I really believe I can win that title!"
Maggi started from pole position and kept the lead in the early laps, while Soerensen fought his way back from sixth to fourth before the first caution of the race. The Dexwet-Df1 Racing driver moved up to second with a great restart and after another caution – the second and final one of the race – Maggi had to surrender the lead on turn two.
"It will be very close and interesting because the forecasted conditions will mix up everything," said Maggi. "We were looking quite bad on Friday because we had some major issues but I think we are very strong in the rain, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. At the start today, I was too far at the left and I also spun the tires. I was a little too kind and left Lasse too much space."
Maggi’s teammate Martin Doubek ended up third taking advantage of a last-lap mistake by Advait Deodhar, who lost his chances to earn his second podium of the season at turn 12. The Indian managed to finish fifth behind Vittorio Ghirelli’s #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro. The Italian rounded out the rookie trophy podium behind Soerensen and Maggi, while Soerensen’s teammate Justin Kunz closed the race in sixth ahead of Alessandro Brigatti.
Freddie Hemborg followed in eighth, edging Pierluigi Veronesi. Celebrating his 70th birthday this weekend, Michael Bleekemolen completed the top-10 and topped the Legend Trophy classification.
Due to Ian Eric Waden’s early retirement in the race, the Dutchman took over the lead in the classification dedicated to drivers aged 40 or more. Arianna Casoli, who also won the Lady Trophy, and Matthias Hauer rounded out the Legend Trophy podium behind Bleekemolen. For Hauer it was the first NWES podium of his career.
The safety-car was deployed for the first time on lap 3, when Hugo De Sadeleer ended up in the gravel trap at turn four. With 10 laps to go, the green flag was back in the air and Naveh Talor was forced to go to the pits due to a flat tire. One lap later the yellow flag flew again due to an incident involving Jesse Vartiainen, Waden and Pol van Pollaert.
The title battle is on and a single position could decide who will be crowned ELITE 2 Division champion between Maggi and Soerensen! The ELITE 2 Final 2 will be streamed live on Sunday at 11:00 am CET on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES YouTube and Facebook channels, Motorsport.tv and vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.
UPDATE: PENALTY REPORT
Following post-race investigations, race control issued the below penalties, resulting in a new top-13: Soerensen, Maggi, Doubek, Ghirelli, Kunz, Brigatti, Hemborg, Veronesi, Albert, Bleekemolen, Casoli, Hauer, Deodhar.
- #70 Michael BLEEKEMOLEN – Avoidable collision car # 48 at turn 11 – Drive Through (equivalent add 30 seconds to the elapsed time of the Race)
- #12 Naveh TALOR – Overtaking car #78 under double yellow flag conditions at turn 4 – Drive Through (equivalent add 30 seconds to the elapsed time of the Race) + Under provation
- #31 Advait DEODHAR – Unsafe blending back after gravel trap at turn 15 – Drive Through (equivalent add 30 seconds to the elapsed time of the Race)
- #31 Advait DEODHAR – Causing an avoidable collision # 99 at main straight – Drive Through (equivalent add 30 seconds to the elapsed time of the Race)