“Who needs Leclerc, when we have Gianmarco Ercoli,” cited a big banner made by fans at the Autodromo di Vallelunga. The Italian gave the people what they wanted: a home race win in a dominant fashion against Alon Day. Ercoli survived several restarts in a hectic EuroNASCAR PRO Round 6 in Italy and struck back after a dramatic Saturday’s race.
Ercoli made a perfect start to the 18-lap race on the #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro and defended his lead ahead of Day and then championship leader Nicolo Rocca. Three cars – Davide Dallara, Vittorio Ghirelli and Claudio Cappelli – collided and therefore the safety car was deployed on lap 2. The race resumed on lap 6 with another strong launch by the Rome native. Day again settled for second and stayed on the back bumper of Ercoli.
Green flag racing didn’t last long due to several crashes that caused more cars to stop around the track. Ghirelli, having rejoined the race one lap down, got the free pass and race control opted for a single file restart this time. Ercoli again got off to a good start and crossed the finish line 1.750 seconds ahead of Day. The Italian celebrated his second Vallelunga career win in front of a packed main grandstand.
“It was a difficult race but I started very fast from the first row and managed my speed because today we had plenty of it. Luli had a very good race and I took the car to win in EuroNASCAR PRO. From the start of the season we’ve been very fast, but I’m not very lucky this season. I took the win at my home track and I’m very happy,” said Ercoli in front of the aforementioned banner in Victory Lane.
Saturday’s race winner Day had the bigger picture in mind and expected an “aggressive Gianmarco, who had nothing to lose”. The PK Carsport driver played it safe and brought home important points in the championship battle in second. The Israeli three-time NWES champion not only again climbed on the podium – his career total raised to 48 – but he also knocked Rocca off the EuroNASCAR PRO point lead. Day received the red Whelen banner for the championship lead with a 12-point advantage on Rocca and Martin Doubek. He was also the winner of the Tijey Fastest Driver Award.
Giorgio Maggi really built momentum since his first season podium at Brands Hatch. The Swiss stormed into the top-3 for the third consecutive time to celebrate his fourth EuroNASCAR PRO career podium. The Race Art Technology driver edged EuroNASCAR 2 champion Martin Doubek, who finished right ahead of Brands Hatch race winner Alexander Graff. Maggi also topped the Junior Trophy ranks for the fourth time in a row.
Romain Iannetta ended up sixth, while Henri Tuomaala scored his 18th Challenger Trophy win – the special classification for bronze and silver drivers – in seventh place. Yevgen Sokolovskiy scored his maiden EuroNASCAR PRO top-10 in eighth and landed in second in the Challenger Trophy classification. Frederic Gabillon and Fabrizio Armetta rounded out the top-10, the Frenchman having recovered from a collision in the first restart while the Italian completed the podium in Challenger Trophy.
Thomas Krasonis and Alex Sedgwick joined Maggi on the Junior Trophy podium for drivers aged 25 and under. The Greek was eleventh under the checkered flag, while the Briton crossed the finish line in 15th. Rocca experienced “a frustrating weekend”: the clutch of his #56 Chevrolet Camaro broke down during the race, forcing the Italian to retire. This ended the CAAL Racing driver’s 18-race streak of top-10 finishes and knocked him off the championship lead.
Rocca is poised to strike back when the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ends its summer break on September 3-4 at Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic, a track he already won at in 2019. Qualifying and all races will be broadcast live on the NWES YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and plenty of TV services from around the world.