Another EuroNASCAR 2 Champion has put his name on the list of EuroNASCAR PRO race winners in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series: Vittorio Ghirelli. The Italian scored his first win against the top European NASCAR drivers at Autodrom Most and became the fifth EuroNASCAR 2 Champion to win a race in NWES’ top tier championship. The Hendriks Motorsport driver is also second in the overall standings just 18 points shy of his teammate and 2019 EuroNASCAR PRO Champion Loris Hezemans.
A look into history tells that Ghirelli was the second quickest EuroNASCAR 2 Champion to grab a win in EuroNASCAR PRO: the most successful driver in his first season so far was Lasse Soerensen, who won the EuroNASCAR 2 Championship with DF1 Racing in 2019 and stepped up to EuroNASCAR PRO in 2020. The Dane scored a record 2 EuroNASCAR PRO wins in his debut season and was a championship contender until the very last race of 2020. He was defeated by Alon Day, who collected his third Championship Ring and became the winningest driver in EuroNASCAR history.
The first ever driver to score a EuroNASCAR PRO win after clinching the EuroNASCAR 2 title was Gianmarco Ercoli, who is also among the title contenders in the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season and is a true homegrown EuroNASCAR talent. The Italian topped the EuroNASCAR 2 standings in 2015 with 4 wins and 7 podium finishes. His first EuroNASCAR PRO win followed at the Indy Circuit of Brands Hatch in 2018 with Racers Motorsport. Since then, Ercoli developed into one of the strongest drivers on the grid. In 2021, his goal is to become the fifth EuroNASCAR PRO Champion since 2012.
The 2019 Finals at Circuit Zolder marked an historic weekend for two former EuroNASCAR 2 champions. In the short span of two days, both Thomas Ferrando and Stienes Longin got their first EuroNASCAR PRO win.
The Frenchman started his EuroNASCAR career at the young age of 16. Famous for his cowboy hat, Ferrando clinched the EuroNASCAR 2 Championship back in 2017 with an incredible figure of 7 wins and 10 podium finishes. His first EuroNASCAR PRO win came at Circuit Zolder in Belgium in 2019, when he mastered the rain and sped to victory in the forest of Limburg. His EuroNASCAR success led the Frenchman to NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race in 2018 at New Hampshire Speedway, where he finished 16th.
Longin made his debut in 2014 and then entered EuroNASCAR 2 full-time the following season before putting together a record-setting championship season in 2016, amassing 8 wins and 11 podium finishes in 12 races. Stepping up to EuroNASCAR PRO, the Leuven-native was a title contender in 2019 and earned six second place finishes in the first eight races of the season before finally breaking through with an emotional win on home soil at Zolder.
The EuroNASCAR 2 Championship is not only popular due to its unpredictable outcome but also for its ability to grow and develop young talent: Ulysse Delsaux, who won the EuroNASCAR 2 Championship in 2018, and Giorgio Maggi, who was runner-up in 2019, are two more strong youngsters coming straight from the NWES talent factory to EuroNASCAR PRO – with Delsaux also racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at New Smyrna in 2016 where he finished 19th among 29 drivers on the grid.
With Tobias Dauenhauer, Simon Pilate, Vladimiros Tziortzis, Francesco Garisto, Advait Deodhar, Alberto Panebianco, Naveh Talor and many more, there is a large number of current EuroNASCAR 2 drivers that are young and have what it takes to become EuroNASCAR 2 Champion and maybe someday a EuroNASCAR PRO winner. Right now, 2020 runner-up Dauenhauer from Germany is leading the overall standings with a 37-point advantage on NWES veteran Martin Doubek. History is in the making and more talents will enter the championship for sure – also through the NWES Drivers Recruitment Program. To be continued …
Featured image by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese