NWES: Growing Numbers, Strong Grid Highlight 2014 European Opener

RaceChaser Staff Featured, International, NASCAR 0 Comments

April 8, 2014 — series release — photo courtesy MotorSport Vision Limited — BLOIS, France – The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is about to start its 6th season, and 3rd under the NASCAR banner, in 2014 with a field stronger and larger than ever before.

A formidable mix of former Euro-NASCAR drivers and prestigious new entries will launch 30 cars into turn one on Saturday April 12 for the season opener: the inaugural Valencia NASCAR Fest.

The anticipation is growing to see who will be the fastest and who will contend for the 2014 European NASCAR crown. Ander Vilarino will go out in search of a historic three-peat, but will face huge opposition from both NWES veterans and tough new entries.

“The new teams and drivers will make the Series even more interesting and competitive,” said two-time-champion Vilarino, who will once again drive the #2 TFT-Banco Santander Chevrolet SS. “There is a lot of anticipation and nobody will know where they are until the first race. Having the season’s opener in my home country is fantastic, I won both races in 2012 and I expect to be strong in Valencia.”

Also back will be most of the 2013 Championship’s top-10. Runner-up Frederic Gabillon (#12 Still Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and 3rd-placed Yann Zimmer (#3 TFT-Moser Vernet Ford Mustang) – who also won the Jerome Sarran Trophy and will now be a teammate of Vilarino at TFT – will both try to dethrone the defending champion, along with Romain Iannetta (#23 RDV Competition-Mc Donald’s Chevrolet SS), Freddy Nordstrom (#44 Still Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Nicolò Rocca (Caal Racing Chevrolet SS).

Former 2013 ELITE 2 Champion Anthony Gandon (TFT-Leclerc Chevrolet SS) is moving up to the ELITE 1 division for this season as well, adding one more face to the championship mix.

The list of entries is impressive and filled with some of the best European racers. Christophe Bouchut (#77 DF-1 Racing by B66 Chevrolet SS), Bas Leinders (#32 RCP – Marc VDS Toyota Camry), Mathias Lauda (#66 DF-1 Racing by B66 Chevrolet SS), Bert Longin (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS), Eddie Cheever III (#51 Caal Racing Chevrolet SS), Kevin Gilardoni (#99 Max Papis Racing Chevrolet Camaro), and Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) will definitely want to start on the right foot their first NASCAR campaigns.

Spaniard Borja Garcia (#1 Ford Autolix Competition Ford Mustang) will be back after a strong outing in the 2013 Le Mans Finals, as will Fabrizio Armetta (#31 Caal Racing Chevrolet SS). Other big names like Fabrizio Del Monte (#6 Events4you by Nocentini Chevrolet Camaro), Victor Gonzalez Jr. (#19 Ford Autolix Competition Ford Mustang), Gian Maria Gabbiani (#33 Overdrive Chevrolet SS), Victor Guerin (#83 Brazil Team Chevrolet SS), and Andrea Larini (#22 Overdrive Chevrolet SS) will also make the first round of the 2014 season unforgettable for the Valencia crowd.

Who will score the first win of 2014? Predicting the outcome of the season opener hasn’t been difficult in prior years, but as Ander Vilarino demonstrated in 2012 and 2013, winning early is very important and the races in Spain will be thrilling.

For 2014, the ELITE 2 division is the ideal stepping stone for young talents wanting to build themselves a career in NASCAR, but also the best choice for experienced drivers that will make every race a hard-fought battle for the win and deliver a great show for the fans.

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Young Drivers Program members Ulysse Delsaux (#23 RDV Compétition Chevrolet SS) and Thomas Ferrando (#22 Overdrive Chevrolet Camaro) will both be on the grid after gaining experience by racing NASCAR in the US and testing in Europe, as will be rookies Philipp Lietz (#86 Renauer Motorsport Ford Mustang), Philippe Valenza (#4 Ford Autolix Competition Ford Mustang), Francesca Linossi (#31 Caal Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Erika Monforte (#88 Euro Kart Racing Chevrolet Camaro).

They will mix it up with returning NWES veterans Leonard Vernet (#3 TFT-Moser Vernet Ford Mustang) and Jerome Laurin (#13 Bull Racing Team Ford Mustang) – first and second in the Legend Trophy in 2013 – Eric Quintal (#2 TFT-Banco Santander Chevrolet SS), runner-up in the Gentleman Chevrolet Camaro) and Nathalie Maillet (#46 RCP – Marc VDS Toyota Camry). New entries like Maxime Dumarey (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS), Simone Laureti (#51 Caal Racing Chevrolet SS), Luca Pirri (#99 Max Papis Racing Chevrolet Camaro), Marcal Melo (#82 Brazil Team Chevrolet SS), Alex Fabiano (#83 Brazil Team Chevrolet SS) and Alessandro Tonoli (#6 Events4you by Nocentini Chevrolet Camaro) will also want to be out front, making the ELITE 2 division even more uncertain.

And the challenge is not over, because following the great interest around the series, Team FJ will inaugurate two brand new Cups, rewarding Rookies and Ladies in a season that promises to be nail-biting from the start in Valencia to the end in Le Mans.

Get ready, because the 2014 European season of NASCAR promises to be anything but lackluster. Drivers, start your engines!

FAST FACTS 

First edition of the Valencia NASCAR Fest: 2014 will see the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series take center stage in 4 dedicated events. Next weekend in Valencia will mark the first edition of the Valencia NASCAR Fest, a racing-centered weekend that will be filled by attractions for the entire family both on and off the track.

Procedure: 30 cars and 60 drivers will be on track for the first NWES event of the season.The weekend will feature two nail-biting 15 minute qualifying sessions on Saturday morning to set the grid for the two exciting Saturday Races, one counting for the ELITE 1 championship and the other for the ELITE 2 championship. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will put on a great show again on Sunday as well, with grids set by Saturday’s fastest race laps.

Trophies: As in 2013, ELITE 1 drivers will be able to take part in both the Jerome Sarran Trophy, rewarding the best driver aged 25 or less, and the Challenger Trophy, which goes to the highest-placed Amateur driver. In the ELITE 2 division, drivers aged 50 or more can compete for the Legend Trophy, and the best gentleman driver brings home the Gentleman Trophy.

New Cups: For 2014, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is also introducing two new Cups for the ELITE 2 division. The Rookie Cup will go to the highest placed debuting young driver and there will also be a Lady Cup to reward the highest placed female driver.

The Track: The Circuit Ricardo Tormo is located in Valencia, on the east cost of Spain. It was built in 1999 and currently hosts a round of the MOTOGP World Championship and Formula 1 test sessions. It is 2.517 miles long and counts 14 turns in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series layout. The natural conformation of place allows a maximum of 180,000 spectators to see the whole track from the grandstands.

Notes

First win matters: In the series’ first two seasons under the NASCAR banner, the winner of the first race has gone on to win the championship in the end, and that driver was Ander Vilarino. The Spaniard will begin the quest for his third title on home soil and try to draw first blood again.

Home Race for various drivers: Valencia is the home track for 5 drivers: Borja Garcia and Ander Vilarino in the ELITE 1 division, and Amir El Hage, Pablo Gallego and Philippe Valenza in ELITE 2.

An international field: On the grid in Valencia there will be drivers from 9 different countries: France (17), Italy (13), Spain (5), Belgium (4), Brazil (4), Austria (3), Luxembourg (2), Switzerland (2), Puerto Rico (1).

Rookies & Ladies: 6 rookies are making their debut in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Ulysse Delsaux and Thomas Ferrando are coming for Team FJ’s Young Drivers Program after gaining experience in the U.S. and they will compete for the Rookie Cup against the Austrian Philipp Lietz, the Spaniard Philippe Valenza and two Italian female drivers: Francesca Linossi and Erika Monforte. Linossi and Monforte will also take part in the Ladies Cup together with Nathalie Maillet.

Last time Out: The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series raced last time in Valencia in 2012, when the Spanish track hosted the championship’s semi-finals. Ander Vilarino lead Javier Villa and Romain Thievin in the ELITE 1 first race. The same drivers stood on the podium after the second race, won again by Vilarino in front of Thievin and Villa. In ELITE 2, Simon Escallier crushed the field in both races.

Next Time Out: The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will get back on track on June 7-8 at the historic Indy Circuit of Brands Hatch for the second edition of the American Speedfest, an event that will be a must see for every British fans For more information on the Speedfest, visit www.speedfest.co.uk!

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