EuroNASCAR 2 is the most unpredictable championship in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series world and the battle for the Rookie Trophy has been exciting in the last couple of years. The 2021 is heading in the same spectacular direction and there was one newcomer who impressed with his performance in the May 15-16 season opener at Valencia, Spain: Alberto Panebianco.
The Italian joined Not Only Motorsport to drive the #89 Chevrolet Camaro after winning a contest organized by the team. He shares the car with Davide Dallara, who managed to win the Challenger Trophy in EuroNASCAR PRO in his debut season in 2020. The foundation is strong and Panebianco proved to be one of the fastest rookies on the grid with two strong runs at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
After two solid practice sessions on Friday, Panebianco qualified tenth fastest and showed that he’s capable of attacking the top-10 spots right from the beginning of the new season. Qualifying and races are two very different beasts though, but the Venaria Reale native didn’t crack under pressure.
Panebianco was able to gain one position in the first EuroNASCAR 2 race of the season. He finished ninth under the checkered flag and topped the Rookie Trophy standings ahead of Iceboys / DF1 Racing’s Leevi Lintukantu and Marko Stipp Motorsport’s Miguel Gomes.
In EuroNASCAR 2 Round 2 on Sunday, he then scored an even better finish. The Italian crossed the checkered flag in eighth after 15 challenging and exciting laps in Valencia. Again, the 24-year-old topped the Rookie Trophy classification by beating Vict Racing’s Paolo Valeri and Gomes. Going home with two big trophies and a solid performance for sure put a smile on the face of the Not Only Motorsport driver.
“We had a very strong weekend. I knew what to do as I got my first taste of EuroNASCAR in Valencia about six months ago,” said Panebianco, who made his NASCAR debut at the Spanish track in the Valencia Super Speedweek in 2020. “Basically I knew how the track was and how the car felt there. Having two strong teammates like Davide and Naveh (Talor) helped me a lot. I was able to look at their data and see where I had room to improve. In comparison to December I really improved, especially under braking as it was my weakness last year. But there is still a long way to go to learn and improve. We were prepared for it and we worked really hard as a team, that was the only secret.”
“I was very pleased to win the Rookie Trophy in both races. I couldn’t imagine a better result for the first race weekend of the season. The goal was at least to be on the Rookie Trophy podium but we focused on doing well and having a strong pace. We managed to do that. Then the wins were coming and it was nice for sure. We are right in the battle and now we look from race to race. At the end of the season, we hope that our hard work will be enough to be on the top step of the podium in Vallelunga.”
The next NWES event will take place on July 3-4 at Brands Hatch, UK. It’s a new track for Panebianco in a EuroNASCAR car and definitely a new challenge on his way to the top of the Rookie Trophy standings. All races will be broadcasted live on EuroNASCAR’s social media profiles – YouTube, Facebook, Twitch – and Motorsport.tv.
Credits featured image: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard