The EuroNASCAR Esports Series on iRacing debuted with a bang at virtual Daytona Road Course yesterday night. At the end of an exciting event, Andre Castro won a race-long duel with two-time NWES Champion Alon Day thanks to a bump & run pass in the closing stage of the 30-minute Main Race.
Over 50 racers representing real life NASCAR Whelen Euro Series teams and track partners such as Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Hockenheimring and Autodrom Most hit the virtual track for what was a real show and the grand premiere of EuroNASCAR in the SimRacing world. The ENES format, featuring action-packed 10-minute Heat Races and Last Chance Qualifier to set the grid for the 30-minute Main Event race, proved to be the perfect mix between entertainment and competition.
After Day topped qualifying with the fastest time by a mere 0.023 seconds on Andre Castro, the Israeli went on to win Heat 1 just ahead of Loris Hezemans. Castro took Heat 2 by a solid margin on Ben Creanor, while Hendriks Motorsport’s Jeffrey Roeffen delivered in Heat 3 ahead of Mishumotors’ Eric Filgueiras.
The Last Chance Qualifier was eventful to say the least and it was rookie Davide Dallara, making his debut at the wheel of the #189 Not Only Motorsport Camaro, who grabbed the win ahead of Df1 Racing’s Justin Kunz and Igor Romanov, representing Not Only Motorsport as well.
Day, wheeling the #24 Monster Energy PK Carsport Chevy, started from the pole in the Main Race and kept the lead for 16 laps, with his mirrors full of the white and yellow #122 DF1 Racing car of Castro. With two laps to go and worn tires, the two exchanged the lead for a brief time, Day was able to retake first positions and then Castro put his seal on the Prologue with a bump & run move on the Israeli.
Despite the controversial finish, the two met in the post-race interview and the exchange was memorable.
"I gotta own up to that one. It was such a good race, we kept trading the lead and then down in turn 3 or 4 I figured out I could give him a little bump. It got a little bigger than expected, probably because of the lag," said Castro to NWES commentator Mark Werrell after the race. "It’s something I expect to get in return eventually in the future. It was such a fun race. I didn’t expect it to be so close the entire time, bumper to bumper. It must have been really fun to watch as well. Huge thanks to Df1 Racing and the whole organization for putting this together."
"Don’t worry, you will get it," smiled Day. "It was such a great fight with Andre and it’s a shame that it ended with a bump & run. It’s not over, I can tell you that. I love Brands Hatch, it will be fun. Andre is really a rocket there as well, he’s extremely quick but I will train as hard as I can to beat him and do it without the bump & run."
Behind the leaders, another door-to-door duel kept 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion Loris Hezemans busy. His teammate Jeffrey Roeffen put a huge pressure on him at the wheel of the #107 machine and with two laps to go, while lapping a slower car, the two collided. Hezemans got the worst out of it and ended up 25th.
Driving for Braxx Racing, Alex Sedgwick won a close three-way battle for fourth place against fellow countryman Ben Creanor and Braxx teammate Bryan Crauwels, who ended up sixth under the checkered flag. Rookies Tobias Dauenhauer and Marijn Kremers were respectively seventh and eighth, while Ulysse Delsaux and Eric Filgueiras completed the top-10.
FeedVict Racing rookie Simon Pilate gained the most spots during the Main Race by coming from 36th to 19th on the #106 Camaro.
At the wheel of the #83 Autodrom Most car, the track’s sports sales manager Jakub Krafek came home 20th and Stefan Kresin drove the #79 Hockenheimring American Fan Fest Camaro to the 22nd place. Three-time Mexico Series champion Ruben Garcia Jr. brought the #888 machine home in 24th position, while MotoGP star Iker Lecuona made solid debut on the #727 Fordzilla Valencia NASCAR Fest Mustang by finishing 28th in what was his very first experience on a virtual NASCAR car.
This Prologue event was a very good demonstration and preparation for the EuroNASCAR Esports Championship that will start on Tuesday, April 28th, with the first points-paying race of the season at virtual Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, the home of the hugely popular American SpeedFest in real life. The event will be streamed live from 20:00 CEST on the EuroNASCAR Youtube channel, Facebook page and Twitch profile and on Motorsport.tv.