The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series crowned its 25th EuroNASCAR PRO race winner at Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic. Driving the #69 Team Bleekemolen Ford Mustang, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen grabbed his maiden NASCAR win after fending off several attacks brought by Alexander Graff. The Dutchman took over the lead after an incident in turn 2 on lap 1 and then led all remaining 16 laps of an eventful EuroNASCAR PRO Round 7.
The race started with Martin Doubek turning pole setter Alon Day around in turn 2, causing a typical NASCAR “Big One”. While the Czech was given a drive through penalty for causing a collision, Bleekemolen took the lead and defended his position after the restart on lap 6. The 44-year-old survived another restart and impressed in an intense battle with Graff in second. The Swede didn’t find a way to get past the Dutchman and therefore Bleekemolen celebrated with his crew and family in Victory Lane. Bleekemolen became the fifth different winner in EuroNASCAR PRO in 2022.
“It was an amazing race, it was a little bit easy to defend after I got to the front at the start!” said the first time winner Bleekemolen in the Victory Lane. “I was a little bit lucky, but I could stay out of trouble and was controlling the race. Alexander was really fast, but I think we were the faster car of the two on-track so I’m really happy!”
Before the start of the race, Bleekemolen said in a pre-race interview that surviving turn 1 would be a crucial factor towards the race. As it turns out, surviving the “Big One” was exactly what allowed Bleekemolen to move to the lead and eventually score his maiden victory in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
“We spoke before the start that it’s always surviving turn 1 and it happened again! I believe Martin Doubek hit Alon Day, and then he spun and I managed to get past them both. In the next lap I saw bumpers over there, gravel over there, it was a mess on the track so it was a wise decision to put in the safety car,” said Bleekemolen about what happened at the start.
Graff tried to find his way past Bleekemolen as he thought the Speedhouse Chevrolet was faster on several parts on the track, but he wasn’t able to make a move. With the bigger picture in mind, Graff was happy with second place. He made important ground on Day, who made an amazing comeback during the race after falling to the back of the field.
The Israeli passed car after car and almost made it to the podium. Day went from 16th into the top-10 in two laps at the final restart and then carved his way up into the top-5 until he got stuck behind his rival Gianmarco Ercoli in the #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro. The duo that already clashed at Brands Hatch made contact again but the Italian stayed ahead of Day to take third, while the PK Carsport driver finished fourth.
Two-time NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race winner Yann Zimmer made an impressive comeback with Racingfuel Motorsport. The Swiss driver, who was among the top drivers in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, stormed to fifth place to complete the top-5. He beat Max Lanza, who took the win in the Challenger Trophy for bronze and silver drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO with the sixth place. Frederic Gabillon, who lost his back bumper during the race, ended up seventh.
Fabrizio Armetta and Yevgen Sokolovskiy rounded out the Challenger Trophy podium by finishing eighth and ninth respectively with Riccardo Romagnoli finishing tenth to score a double top-10 finish for The Club Motorsport. Vittorio Ghirelli came from the back of the grid to finish in 13th ahead of Romain Iannetta and Aliyyah Koloc, who scored her maiden victory in the Junior Trophy in front of her home crowd. She was joined on the podium by Jonne Rautjarvi and Liam Hezemans.
Apart from Day and Doubek, several championship contenders were also involved in the “Big One”. Among them were Giorgio Maggi and Nicolo Rocca, both drivers ending up several laps down in 20th and 24th respectively after making a visit to the pits.
While the EuroNASCAR PRO drivers will be back in action on Sunday at 14:30 CEST, the EuroNASCAR 2 stars will hit the track on Saturday at 17:35 CEST. All races will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and several TV services from around the world.