The 2023 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season opener at Circuit Ricardo Tormo provided another battle that will go down in the history books. In Valencia, Gianmarco Ercoli and Vladimiros Tziortzis battled for second place for ten laps in EuroNASCAR PRO Round 1. While Liam Hezemans pulled away to take his first win in the NWES premier championship, the Italian and the Cypriot put up a blueprint of what “Pure Racing” is all about.
Remember when Loris Hezemans and Lasse Sorensen drove side by side for almost one ful lap in 2020? Ercoli and Tziortzis were the protagonists of another unforgettable battle on the 4.005-kilometer circuit. With a lot of respect, amazing door-to-door maneuvers and a little bit of swapped paint, CAAL Racing and Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport had the 16,000 fans in Valencia on their feet. In the end, it was Tziortzis who managed to pass Ercoli in the final laps of the race to take second place.
“I think all the riders did their best and I congratulate Ercoli for third place and Hezemans for the win,” said Tziortzis, who wrestled his #5 EuroNASCAR FJ around the fast and demanding corners of the Circuit Ricardo Tormo to finally beat Ercoli. “I am looking forward to an interesting championship battle. What we showed was strong racing and the better driver won today. I thank Gianmarco for this great fight.”
“I was very fast in the first five laps, but then I had a problem with the car and I focused fully on defending second place,” said Ercoli, a true NWES veteran and top driver who has already delivered memorable battles in his career. “It was the first race and we know that the season is very long. Now it’s important to score as many points as possible. It was a clean duel and I am very happy with the race. It was really good.”
While Tziortzis and Ercoli made it to the podium in EuroNASCAR PRO Round 1, the duo suffered a setback in the second race on Sunday. Ercoli was involved in an incident with Hezemans on the penultimate lap that forced the Italian to pit with a damaged tire. The driver of the #54 Chevrolet Camaro finished 14th. Tziortzis was pushed off the track by Vittorio Ghirelli on the final lap of the race, dropping the Cypriot back to 13th.
With two of the twelve EuroNASCAR PRO races in the books, both top drivers are still in a good position to fight for the championship. While Tziortzis sits in sixth place, twelve points behind Valencia race winner and points leader Lucas Lasserre, Ercoli sits in seventh, just two points behind the Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver. “Pure Racing” is not only the motto of EuroNASCAR, but also a philosophy shared by the drivers on the track.
Tziortzis and Ercoli have shown what NASCAR drivers in Europe are made of and both are ready to tackle the Indy Circuit of Brands Hatch in the UK on June 17-18. All qualifying and race sessions will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and various TV services around the world.