Ghirelli and Linster continue to set the benchmark in Qualifying

Vittorio Ghirelli and Gil Linster laid claim to the first Pole Position Award of the year after with the fastest times in the NASCAR GP Spain’s Qualifying sessions. Beautiful weather and warm conditions made the first sessions on Saturday a true challenge for drivers and machines. Both Ghirelli and Linster kept their head cool and were rewarded with the best position on the starting grid heading to the first race of the 2024 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season.

The competition level was close as never before with 18 drivers within one second in EuroNASCAR PRO’s Q1 session and many new drivers and veterans battling for top spots in EuroNASCAR 2.

EuroNASCAR PRO: Ghirelli tops both Qualifying and Superpole

The first EuroNASCAR PRO Qualifying session in 2024 was one to remember. Only one second separated the top-18 drivers and plenty of big names such as Marc Goossens and Paul Jouffreau were left out of Superpole, proving EuroNASCAR PRO’s status as one of the most competitive series in Europe. Vittorio Ghirelli was the fastest in the session and followed it up with a blistering fast 1:40.773 time in Superpole to secure first place.

Ghirelli’s Superpole time was initially deleted but the decision was reverted after further investigation and therefore he got the lap time back. The Italian will lead the field from Tobias Dauenhauer, who was initially declared as the pole sitter. Only 0.006 seconds separated the Bremotion driver from Fabrizio Armetta, who came really close to score his first front row start. Nonetheless, the driver of The Club Motorsport’s #55 Chevrolet Camaro still secured the best qualifying position of his career.

“It was a really stressful qualifying,” admitted Ghirelli. “The car was very good and I was able to set fast lap times, but apparently they deleted the lap times. We then brought the footage of the onboards and it was later judged to be correct. We might have done more laps on our tires, but it’s okay as what’s important is that we’re starting first. I’m looking forward to seeing the fans in Round 1!”

Sebastiaan Bleekemolen was fourth in the Team Bleekemolen #69 Toyota Camry ahead of Gianmarco Ercoli. Ercoli will be fighting with extra motivation as his family had just welcomed the arrival of his newborn daughter Ludovica. Liam Hezemans topped the Junior Trophy in sixth ahead of Hendriks Motorsport teammate Martin Doubek. Lucas Lasserre, Thomas Toffel and Vladimiros Tziortzis complete the top-10.

It was a great day for Toffel, who advanced to Superpole for the first time and claimed the top spot in the Challenger Trophy for elite amateur drivers. Ryan Vargas and Thomas Dombrowski filled the top-3 positions in the special classification for young drivers while Massimiliano Lanza and Kenko Miura closed out the top-3 in Challenger Trophy. Goossens and Jouffreau will have a lot of work to do from 14th and 15th on the grid.

The reigning EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Jouffreau did not find his pace as he was challenged by a lot of oversteering in his #3 Ford Mustang. The RDV Competition crew will work on the car to improve the handling but still the Frenchman has his eyes set on a top result in the first EuroNASCAR PRO race and he may be a top contender for the four bonus points for the most positions gained in a race. “The car was a bit of a nightmare,” said Jouffreau after Qualifying.

EuroNASCAR 2: Linster tops the timesheets once again

The first Pole Position since 2022 was in the books for Gil Linster, who continued to show excellent pace in the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Toyota Camry. The Luxembourger put in what he described as a “perfect” lap with a time of 1:41.406, half a second ahead of teammate Martin Doubek. Both Hendriks drivers will lead the field from Thomas Toffel, who secured an excellent third place despite a little spin at Turn 11.

“We had a perfect lap time at the end,” said an ecstatic Linster. “Martin was very close and that was the reason for me to drop the pressure in the tires and go out for one more lap. We took the risk to do it, but we just had a perfect lap. I think I didn’t push the tires too much, but they definitely have got some laps in now.”

Austrian driver Patrick Schober, who was born in Spain, and Italian Claudio Cappelli completed the top-5. Cappelli beat Legend Trophy rival Melvin de Groot by just 0.045 seconds to take the top spot in the special classification for drivers aged 40 and above. De Groot’s teammate at Team Bleekemolen Thomas Dombrowski was seventh ahead of Kenko Miura, who took third in the Legend Trophy.

Roberto Benedetti and Thomas Krasonis rounded out the top-10 ahead of Simone Giussani, the fastest of the Rookie Trophy drivers. Just like in Legend Trophy, the battle in the newcomers class was fierce and in the end, only 0.040 seconds separated Giussani from second placed driver Julien Rehberg. Mario Ercoli, now an uncle despite still being 16 years old in age, was third in the Rookie Trophy with a 14th place overall result. Arianna Casoli topped the Lady Trophy in 23rd position.

With the Qualifying proceedings completed, the 2024 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series competitors will be working hard to prepare themselves for the first races of the year. EuroNASCAR PRO Round 1 will start at 13:25 CEST while EuroNASCAR 2 will begin their Round 1 at 17:10 CEST. All races from the NASCAR GP Spain will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel and numerous TV channels around the world.