Out of six races in the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season, Melvin de Groot topped the Legend Trophy standings for drivers aged 40 and more four times. The Dutchman is the dominant leader of the EuroNASCAR 2 classification but his chasers will do their homework during the summer break to strike back and challenge the driver of the #69 Team Bleekemolen Ford Mustang.
The best chance to close the gap will be the next championship round at Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic. De Groot will take advantage of his two joker races in the regular season – the best eight of ten races count before the finals at Grobnik, Croatia – and miss out the next event. This means, one-time Legend Trophy race winners Yevgen Sokolovskiy and Claudio Cappelli will get their chance to gain important points on de Groot.
De Groot’s closest rival is Sokolovskiy 19 points down to the leader. The Ukrainian scored his maiden Legend Trophy win in Italy at Autodromo di Vallelunga and is set to make an important step towards the classification’s lead at Autodrom Most. The Marko Stipp Motorsport driver is pulling double duties in 2022 again by racing in EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2. The additional seat time may become a factor in the battle for the Legend Trophy.
“I have realistic chances of winning the Legend Trophy but the competition is strong,” said Sokolovskiy. “My teammate Miguel [Gomes] is also getting better and better. My biggest rival is Melvin at Team Bleekemolen, who’s very fast and strong this year but my goal is to beat him and grab my maiden overall EuroNASCAR Trophy win.” With the knot burst in Italy, Sokolovskiy will be for sure a driver to keep an eye on in the second half of the season.
He’s followed by his teammate Gomes, who’s third in the Legend Trophy ranks. The Portuguese joined the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2021 and made a strong progression during the 2022 season. Driving the #46 Marko Stipp Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro, Gomes is only 34 points off the leader and is still hunting for his maiden Legend Trophy race win.
“I finished in the top-10 at the season opener in Valencia and also scored a top-10 finish at Brands Hatch. Add to that four podiums in the Legend Trophy in the first four races and another one in the second race of Vallelunga,” he said. “The competition is at a high level because we have many great drivers in the special classification who have a lot of experience. I will continue to fight for first place as long as it is still mathematically possible to get to the top.”
Roberto Benedetti is fourth ahead of 2020 Legend Trophy winner Arianna Casoli. The latter is just one point ahead of NWES veteran Eric Quintal and four points ahead of the oldest driver on the grid – 72 years old – Michael Bleekemolen. Paolo Valeri sits in 24th overall followed by Legend Trophy race winner Cappelli, Janne Koikkalainen, Matthias Hauer, Yannik Panagiotis, Andrea Tronconi, Christoph Lenz and Dario Caso.
The next NWES race will take place on September 3-4 at Autodrom Most, Czech Republic. All races will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and several TV services from around the world.
Credits Featured Image: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Bart Dehaese