1.4 seconds decided EuroNASCAR 2 Round 6 at the Autodromo di Vallelunga in the favor of Liam Hezemans. The Dutchman crossed the finish line 11.4 seconds ahead of Tuomas Pontinen, but the real maring was way smaller as the Hendriks Motorsport driver had to overcome a 10-second penalty for an incident with Alberto Naska on the opening lap. It was Hezeman’s second NASCAR Whelen Euro Series win after his maiden visit to Victory Lane at Brands Hatch.
Sunday’s first race was a rollercoaster of emotion for the Dutchman: He tangled with Naska and dropped down to fifth only to start an amazing comeback and make it to the front of the field. With the 10-seconds penalty, Hezemans had to open a big gap on Pontinen in second to win the race and top the Rookie Trophy standings. The win meant that Hezemans remains Naska’s closest rival in the overall standings as he closed the gap to just 9 points at the top of the table.
“I really don’t know! I started the race and then I got a bit tangled with Alberto and lost a couple of positions. The race was awesome because I was taking it quite easy as I thought we’re in the lead and then I heard that I had a 10-second penalty, so I just pushed as hard as I could. I locked up the tires three times or something but it worked out, it feels so nice!” said Hezemans after his epic performance in the Victory Lane.
Pontinen saw his maiden EuroNASCAR 2 win slipping out of his hands in the very last lap of the race. The Finn wasn’t able to keep the gap below ten seconds, but scored his maiden NWES podium to become the first Finn to grab a top-3 result. The unlucky story: Pontinen didn’t know about Hezemans’ penalty and therefore didn’t push too much to keep the gap on the Dutchman below ten seconds. “If I would have known, I would have been able to compete for the win, but I’m still very happy about the second place,” he said.
The overall podium mirrored the Rookie Trophy top-3 with Paul Jouffreau scoring his maiden top-3 result. The Speedhouse driver kept Ulysse Delsaux at bay to be third under the checkered flag. “I never thought to have a chance to fight for a podium here today,” he said. The two Frenchmen beat a very unlucky Alberto Naska, who was involved in a crash on lap 5 with Martin Doubek. The CAAL Racing driver remained in the points lead, but was very unhappy with the result.
Doubek dove into the inside of Naska at the hairpin in the battle for first and they made contact. The Italian and the Czech then made more contact off track, resulting in a drive through penalty for Doubek and a loss of positions for Naska. The latter tried to strike back, but issues with his engine derailed his plans to make a comeback in front of his thousands of fans on the grandstands. For the bigger picture, Naska still scored important points for the championship.
Christian Malcharek followed in sixth, while Patrick Schober scored his third consecutive top-10 result in seventh – the best of his EuroNASCAR career so far. Gil Linster ended up eighth ahead of Neo Lambert, who also took part in the Club Challenge on Friday. Yevgen Sokolovskiy grabbed the win in the Legend Trophy with a strong top-10 result in his #48 Marko Stipp Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro. He was joined by Melvin de Groot and his teammate Miguel Gomes on the podium for drivers aged 40 and more.
Luli Del Castello and Aliyyah Koloc battled on the track for the win in the Lady Trophy. In the end, despite receiving a 10-second penalty it was the Italian who scored her fourth Lady Trophy win of the season to further expand her lead in the Lady Trophy. The CAAL Racing driver ended up 13th right ahead of Buggyra ZM Racing’s Koloc. Alina Loibnegger rounded out the Lady Trophy podium in 19th, while Arianna Casoli finished 4th in the special classification.
Naska and Doubek were not the only championship contenders affected by unexpected situations in a crazy EuroNASCAR 2 Round 6. Vladimiros Tziortzis, who started from pole, was forced to retire on lap 4 due to an engine failure. The Cypriot was leading the race with a comfortable lead when his EuroNASCAR FJ suddenly lost power, forcing him to park his car off track. Race winner Hezemans was not the first driver to overcome a penalty at Autodromo di Vallelunga: In 2021, Jacques Villeneuve won the EuroNASCAR PRO race despite a 5-second penalty.
The EuroNASCAR 2 drivers will be back on September 3-4 at the beautiful Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic, but the NASCAR GP Italy hasn’t finished yet. The American Festival of Rome will be rounded out with EuroNASCAR PRO Round 6 that will start at 1:20 pm CEST. The race will be broadcast live on the NWES YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv, and plenty of TV services from around the world.