The 2021 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season was decided at Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy. While the EuroNASCAR PRO Champion Loris Hezemans was crowned, the battles in the two Trophies had their twists and turns over the season. Gianmarco Ercoli was not only a NWES title contender but also the dominant force in the Junior Trophy for drivers aged 25 or under at the beginning of the season. In the Challenger Trophy for bronze and silver drivers, Henri Tuomaala returned to the top of the standings.
Junior Trophy Champion: Gianmarco Ercoli
In his last season of eligibility for the Junior Trophy, Gianmarco Ercoli was the dominant force in the special classification as he was also among the overall title contenders until the very last race of the season. Ercoli beat Giorgio Maggi and Ulysse Delsaux in the battle for the Junior Trophy and grabbed the title for the first time in his career with 8 wins in the special classification against Maggi’s 3 and Delsaux’s 1. In doing so, Ercoli also became the all-time Junior Trophy winningest driver with 18 wins against Hezemans’ 14.
Ercoli joined the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2014 and was crowned EuroNASCAR 2 Champion in 2015. Since his debut in the official European NASCAR series, the CAAL Racing driver made 93 starts across the two NWES Championships. In EuroNASCAR 2, he collected 4 wins in his 2015 championship season. His first visit in the EuroNASCAR PRO Victory Lane came in 2018 at Brands Hatch where he wrote history as the first EuroNASCAR 2 Champion to win a EuroNASCAR PRO race.
Since then, Ercoli collected two more wins: one in 2020 and one in 2021. His hometrack 30 minutes North of Rome at Vallelunga seems to suit him best, as he grabbed 2 wins on home soil and 1 victory at the Indy Circuit of Brands Hatch. With another strong year in the books and his maiden Junior Trophy in his bag, Ercoli has only one more step to climb in the 2022 NWES season.
Challenger Trophy Champion: Henri Tuomaala
Henri Tuomaala topped the 2021 classification in the Challenger Trophy for bronze and silver drivers in the EuroNASCAR PRO Championship. The Finn from Helsinki beat the 2020 Champion Davide Dallara by just 10 points, earning back the trophy he won in 2019. It was a tough battle between Tuomaala, Dallara and Yevgen Sokolovskiy over the course of an exciting 2021 NWES season. Driving the #23 DF1 Racing – Iceboys Chevrolet Camaro, the 32-year-old won the Challenger Trophy classification five times, Dallara won it thrice, Fabrizio Armetta twice, Andrea Nori and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen once each.
The Finn joined the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2018 with a part-time program. In 2019, Tuomaala raced his first full season and left a mark in the Challenger Trophy ranks. He topped the special ranking in his first full-time season and raised the cup in the air at Circuit Zolder. After a forced break in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tuomaala struck back in 2021 to become the first ever two-time Challenger Trophy in EuroNASCAR history and the winningest driver in the special classification.
With another title on his list, Tuomaala is surely keen to improve his overall results in the coming season. In 2021, he made his 29th start in Europe’s official NASCAR series and scored the fourth top-10 finish of his career. The Finn finished tenth in the overall standings in what was definitely his best season in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series so far. The Helsinki native is cold as ice and surely set to defend his title in the 2022 NWES season.