Luli Del Castello and Aliyyah Koloc wrote history in Saturday’s EuroNASCAR 2 race at Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy. The two Lady Trophy contenders stormed into the top-10 of the overall standings in a grid with more than 30 cars entered for the event. While Del Castello won the Lady Trophy race in eighth, Koloc finished in ninth just four tenths of a second behind the Italian at the end of a frantic last lap.
Both drivers cut through the field to earn a place in the top-10. Del Castello started 18th and methodically climbed her way up the ranks, while Koloc started 14th and almost immediately earned the 9th spot despite some issues with the tendons in her right arm caused by a problem with the gear lever. But on the last lap Del Castello snuck her way past the Buggyra driver to get the Lady Trophy win. The fierce battle resumed on Sunday and this time Del Castello overcame a 10-second penalty and a spin to finish anyway ahead of Koloc. The two rookies look destined to battle for the trophy until the very last race of the season.
“It was a unique weekend: intense, full of emotions and responsibilities because Vallelunga is the only track I know in the calendar. I started towards the rear of the pack and when my spotter told me I was 8th under the checkered flag I screamed like I never did before!” said Del Castello of his best result so far. “On Sunday I absolutely wanted to return the car to Ercoli in good condition. Despite the penalty I focused completely on my times, calculating every move as I always do. I also spun at some point and lost a lot of time, but I was able to regain 4 seconds in 3 laps – a little miracle – and stay in front in the Lady Trophy. I think the battle between me and Aliyyah will be intense and stimulating all season long because we have the same goal: fight with the best!”.
Del Castello leads the Lady Trophy standings in 13th overall. The rookie driving the #54 CAAL Racing Camaro swept the weekend and scored her fourth Lady Trophy win of the season. After six races, the 37-year-old sits 19 points ahead of Koloc.
Koloc has been extremely competitive driving the #29 Buggyra ZM Racing Mustang so far, but she missed the consistency of her Italian rival. In his rookie season, the 17-year-old is looking for that fine line that would allow her to close the gap in the championship battle with Del Castello.
“The whole weekend I had a problem with my elbow from shifting. Saturday was pretty hard and Sunday was really painful,” said Koloc. “The race on Saturday was going well and then on the last lap I had a problem with the car and I made a mistake and lost two positions. So I’m not so happy about that, but to still finish in the top 10 for the first time is good.”
With two Lady Trophy wins in Valencia and Brands Hatch, Koloc will have the home field advantage next time out in Most, Czech Republic on September 3-4.
Alina Loibnegger from Austria follows in third, 32 points behind Del Castello in the Lady Trophy standings halfway through the season. The Racingfuel Motorsport driver impressed with consistency so far, keeping Del Castello and Koloc in sight, but is still looking for her first Lady Trophy win of the season. In 2021 in her rookie season, Loibnegger topped the classification seven times.
Arianna Casoli – the winningest Lady Trophy driver with 32 wins and three titles – is currently fourth in the trophy’s standings. The Italian is chasing her first Lady Trophy win of 2022, but she has experience of six year of EuroNASCAR racing under her belt and knows very well that the second part of the season is crucial to enter the finals in the best possible position. The time will come for sure for the Speedhouse driver to strike back and get on the Lady Trophy podium.
With four female drivers on the grid, the championship battle will for sure heat up when EuroNASCAR visits the Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic on September 3-4.