Vittorio Ghirelli and Gil Linster are the Pole Award winners of the NASCAR GP Belgium at Circuit Zolder. While the Italian topped the standings on the damp four kilometer track in Superpole in EuroNASCAR PRO, the Luxembourgish grabbed the maiden EuroNASCAR 2 Pole Position of his career. It was also the maiden Pole Position for Not Only Motorsport since joining the series in 2020.
Linster gambled and put on slick tires for the session and with the track drying lap by lap, the CAAL Racing driver clocked the fastest lap in the closing stages of Qualifying. Ghirelli struck back after a season of bad luck and several technical issues to prove that the 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion has what it takes to be a front runner in Europe’s premier NASCAR class.
EuroNASCAR PRO: Tough situation for the championship contenders
Qualifying provided some surprises that may have implications on the 2022 EuroNASCAR PRO title race. Starting from Pole Position, Ghirelli will have the chance to rebound and steal the show from the title contenders at Circuit Zolder. Gianmarco Ercoli, who stated that the NASCAR GP Belgium will be his last chance to fight for the title at Grobnik, delivered and finished second in his #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro. He was only 0.156 seconds slower than the pole setter.
“It was a really nice Qualifying! I have to say the car was fantastic, we had an engine problem yesterday in Practice so overnight the guys did an engine change. Every lap I was improving and after a lot of bad luck, this is a good comeback! Let’s just try to keep up and let’s go for it,” said Ghirelli, who was all smiles in the post-Qualifying interview.
Patrick Lemarie is hoping for the first 100-percent clean race weekend of his 2022 season. The Frenchman is confident he has a top-3 car and showed a great pace to secure third place in Superpole. Sitting third in the points standings, Giorgio Maggi was the strongest title contender in fourth place. The Swiss also led the Junior Trophy ranks for drivers aged 25 and under. Liam Hezemans had a solid run in his #50 Hendriks Motorsport Toyota Camry and closed the top-5.
Local hero and NWES returnee Anthony Kumpen ended up sixth in his first EuroNASCAR PRO qualifying session since 2018. Valencia race winner Nicolo Rocca followed in seventh ahead of Romain Iannetta, reigning EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Martin Doubek and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. Frederic Gabillon missed out on Superpole by 0.194 seconds in eleventh, while Alexander Graff, who’s second in the championship standings, had to settle for twelfth.
Henri Tuomaala topped the ranks in the Challenger Trophy standings for bronze and silver drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO after Pol van Pollaert had his fastest lap time removed for track limits. He edged out Fabrizio Armetta and the duo was followed by Leonardo Colavita and championship leader Alon Day, who landed a last minute deal with Speedhouse for the NASCAR GP Belgium.
After suffering from issues in Free Practice on Friday, the Israeli could only set the 16th fastest time of the session, but the three-time champion is ready to carve his way up the ranks and also aim for the bonus points for the most passes in a race.
EuroNASCAR 2: Maiden Pole Award for Gil Linster
Big applause, team members cheering and a lot of joy: this is how the garage of CAAL Racing celebrated Gil Linster’s maiden Pole Position in EuroNASCAR 2. The Luxembourgish, driving the #56 Chevrolet Camaro, gambled on strategy on a drying track. Linster put on slicks and struggled with the handling for about six laps, but as the track continued to dry up on the ideal racing line, he was able to clock the four kilometer long circuit in 1:44.917 minutes. He beat championship leader Alberto Naska, who was only 0.234 seconds slower than his teammate.
“We played a little bit of poker today and in the last laps I had some dry spots and I was able to put the lap time together! We struggled with the team on whether we should go on the wet or dry tires and they said ‘No, we’ll try a bit of poker!’ and I just have to sit in the car, drive it around and be the fastest! It’s my third year and now we have our first pole position,” said Linster after his strong Qualifying session today.
Naska also topped the Rookie Trophy standings in second right ahead of the youngest driver in EuroNASCAR history: Leonardo Colavita. 2018 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Ulysse Delsaux followed in fourth and kept Liam Hezemans at bay for most of the session. The latter is Naska’s closest rival in the championship battle and will start two rows behind the Italian in the #88 Chevrolet Camaro.
Tuomas Pontinen finished six ahead of Roberto Benedetti, who topped the ranks in the Legend Trophy standings for drivers aged 40 and more. Benedetti had the chance to grab the pole position after two stellar sector times in his last attempt. Unfortunately, he went wide at the hairpin and therefore abandoned his last lap to come back to the pits, leaving the pole to Linster.
Another championship contender, Vladimiros Tziortzis, will start from eighth. while Claudio Cappelli and Paul Jouffreau rounded out the top-10 ahead of Legend Trophy contender Melvin de Groot in eleventh. Reigning Champion Martin Doubek only ended up 13th at the track where he grabbed his maiden EuroNASCAR win back in 2020. Legend Trophy leader Yevgen Sokolovskiy was 17th while Luli Del Castello beat Alina Loibnegger in the fight for the best starting position among the Lady Trophy drivers. The two ended up 21st and 22nd respectively.
The NASCAR GP Belgium will host two races – one in each championship – on Saturday. All rounds of the weekend will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and several TV services from around the world.