The Italian fans are in party mode after two fellow countrymen grabbed the Pole Awards for the NASCAR GP Italy at the Autodromo di Vallelunga. Gianmarco Ercoli stormed to first place in Superole for EuroNASCAR PRO Round 5, while Alberto Naska clocked the fastest lap in an eventful EuroNASCAR 2 session. For both local heroes, it was their maiden Pole Award in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Ercoli was on Pole Position two times in his EuroNASCAR PRO career, but only in Sunday’s races for which the grid is determined by the fastest lap time in Saturday’s rounds. After four consecutive Pole Positions for Vladimiros Tziortzis in EuroNASCAR 2, Naska topped the standings for the first time in his career.
EuroNASCAR PRO: Ercoli on fire
In Q1, Ercoli clocked the second fastest lap behind his rival Alon Day to make it to the Superpole shootout for the top-10 drivers. As Day, the Italian clocked only three laps in Q1 and therefore saved his tires under the burning sun of Vallelunga. In Superpole a stellar 1:40.608m was the key to secure Pole Position. The CAAL Racing driver was 0.132 seconds faster than Day, who will start alongside Ercoli in EuroNASCAR PRO Round 5.
“I’m very happy because this is my first Pole Position in Qualifying,” said a happy Ercoli after the Superpole. “I always have good speed in Race 1 for starting in Pole Position on Race 2, but it’s my first time in Qualifying and I’m very happy! I’m very happy to have the race in my home because it’s good for the sponsors and for the fans, so I have the power of the fans and it’s very nice!”
Day and Ercoli clashed at the Brands Hatch Circuit and now will start side-by-side when the green flag is waved. The Israeli for sure is poised to strike back and make ground on championship leader Nicolo Rocca, who ended up eighth in Qualifying. The PK Carsport driver bested Giorgio Maggi, who confirmed the momentum he gained with his second EuroNASCAR PRO podium in the UK. The Swiss also topped the Junior Trophy standings for drivers aged 25 and under.
Switching cars within the Not Only Motorsport organization seemed to be the right move for Vittorio Ghirelli. The Italian had a tough start to the season but struck back with a solid fourth place in Qualifying at the wheel of the #89 Chevrolet Camaro. He was followed by Patrick Lemarie, who closed the top-5. Brands Hatch race winner Alexander Graff was sixth ahead of Marc Goossens and Rocca, while Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion Martin Doubek completed the top-10.
Liam Hezemans, who’s pulling double duties again, and Thomas Ferrando rounded out the Junior Trophy podium in 12th and 13th place. Henri Tuomaala was the fastest of the Challenger Trophy drivers in 15th overall, followed by Davide Dallara and Fabrizio Armetta. EuroNASCAR PRO Round 5 will kick off on Saturday at 1:20 pm CEST and be broadcast on the NWES YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and plenty of TV services from around the world.
EuroNASCAR 2: Naska carried by thousands of fans
It must be a perfect weekend for Naska: the Italian has a big crowd of fans around his pit box and his #88 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro is incredibly fast. With a time of 1:41.024, Naska made it to the top of the standings in a session that ended early due to a crash involving Janne Koikkalainen on the start-finish straight. The Finn triggered the third red flag of the 20-minute session, which was not resumed due to the debris on the track. Dario Caso and Leonardo Colavita also stopped on track, causing the other two earlier interruptions.
“It’s the best feeling in the world, it’s wonderful to see all these people came here for the EuroNASCAR and also for me!” said Naska after scoring his maiden Pole Position. “The Qualifying was the weirdest Qualifying I’ve ever seen because I couldn’t do a single clean lap, the only clean lap that I had was the one for Pole Position but it was a lap with many mistakes. In the following lap I almost matched the pole of the EuroNASCAR PRO, but then the third red flag came and I was really angry. Luckily I got the Pole Position!”
Naska, who was also the fastest Rookie Trophy driver, clocked the four-kilometer track 0.467 seconds faster than Tziortzis, who missed the Pole Position for the first time in the 2022 EuroNASCAR 2 season. The latter came on top of reigning champion Doubek and Brands Hatch race winner Hezemans was fourth. Christian Malcharek closed the top-5 after a solid run in his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro.
Second fastest Rookie in Qualifying Tuomas Pontinen followed in sixth, while 2018 EuroNASCAR 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux landed in seventh place. Melvin de Groot again topped the Legend Trophy standings in eighth with Claudio Cappelli and Gil Linster closing the top-10. Aliyyah Koloc was the fastest Lady Trophy driver in 14th overall. EuroNASCAR 2 Round 5 will start at 4:40 pm CEST and be broadcast on the NWES YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and plenty of TV services from around the world.