Gladiators in Italy: EuroNASCAR set for second race weekend at Autodromo di Vallelunga

The 2024 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will resume on May 18-19 at the beautiful Autodromo di Vallelunga. For the fourth time, the Italian track will host the NASCAR GP Italy, and the 4.085 kilometers track near the country’s capital, Rome, is a guarantee for close, pure racing and door-to-door battles. 53 drivers representing 16 nations are entered in the event. Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for another amazing American-themed event in Europe!

The Autodromo di Vallelunga has its roots in horse racing and was originally an oval sand track. Car races were also held on the oval, but the track quickly evolved into a road course with fast and technical sections, creating a tough and challenging mix that drivers from all over the world fell in love with. Parts of the track were designed by Italian racing legend Piero Taruffi, who raced in Formula One in the 1950s. Since the first visit in 2020, the EuroNASCAR V8 machines have proven to be a perfect fit for the track and with 29,000 fans attending the American Festival of Rome in 2023, Vallelunga has become one of the most exciting dates on the calendar.

EuroNASCAR PRO: Ghirelli tops the standings

The NASCAR GP Italy is a highlight for the many Italian teams and drivers in the NWES paddock. 16 drivers and six teams call the Vallelunga circuit their home race. The Tifosi are sure to fill the grandstands to cheer on their local heroes. Drivers like reigning champion Gianmarco Ercoli, Vittorio Ghirelli and Max Lanza – all living in Rome – will definitely have the additional motivation of the many fans following them. The CAAL Racing drivers will be keen to entertain the fans, with Ercoli in particular looking to bounce back after a subpar season-opener at Valencia. The reigning EuroNASCAR PRO Champion welcomed his daughter into the world during the Spanish weekend, but encountered problems on track and is currently seventh in the standings, while Lanza is twelfth overall and second in the Challenger Trophy.

Italian fans will see Vittorio Ghirelli with the red Whelen banner on his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet. At Valencia, the Fasano native won a race and finished a strong second in Sunday’s race. The 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion leads the overall standings ahead of Team Bleekemolen’s Marc Goossens and Speedhouse’s Lucas Lasserre, who are tied just nine points behind the Italian at the top of the EuroNASCAR PRO standings. Lasserre’s teammate and 2018 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Ulysse Delsaux and Race Art Technologies’ Thomas Toffel round out the top-5 heading into the NASCAR GP Italy.

2023 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Paul Jouffreau follows in sixth in the #3 RDV Competition Ford Mustang, while Valencia race winner Liam Hezemans sits in eighth place in the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Toyota Camry. Marko Stipp Motorsport’s Thomas Krasonis is ninth and third in the Junior Trophy behind Jouffreau and Hezemans, with Dario Caso not only completing the top-10 but also leads the Challenger Trophy standings. Tobias Dauenhauer is eleventh, but the German Bremotion driver showed great pace in Valencia and will certainly be in contention for race wins. Behind Lanza sits Ryan Vargas. The American will be making his first visit to the Italian venue.

Three drivers will be making their debuts at Vallelunga in the 2024 EuroNASCAR PRO season: Briton Max Marzorati will join Double V Racing to complete the line-up of the #27 Ford Mustang. Italian Davide Dallara will make his EuroNASCAR comeback with Speedhouse in the #64 Ford Mustang, while compatriot Mario Buscemi will contest his first NWES race with Granducato Speed in the #90 Chevrolet Camaro.

EuroNASCAR 2: Martin Doubek on the rise

The fans saw incredible battles but also a controversy between the two Hendriks Motorsport drivers Martin Doubek and Gil Linster in Spain. After making contact in Saturday’s race, tempers flared and since the incident, the team-mates are still on odd terms about what happened on the first lap at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Doubek is leading the EuroNASCAR 2 Championship after winning Saturday’s race and finishing second on Sunday right behind Linster, who suffered a puncture in the first race following contact with the Czech. The Luxembourger is eighth in the standings entering the second event of the season.

A second and a third place in Spain put Austrian Patrick Schober as the runner-up in the standings. The RDV Competition driver wants to keep the momentum going and score his first win of the season in Italy. Schober is just six points behind Doubek, but only three points ahead of Valencia surprise Thomas Toffel in the #34 Race Art Technology Chevrolet Camaro. Claudio Cappelli, another local hero, is fourth and leads the Legend Trophy class for drivers aged 40 and over, while French youngster Thomas Dombrowski completes the top-5 for Team Bleekemolen.

Another sensation from Valencia is Julien Rehberg in the #77 Bremotion Chevrolet Camaro. The German made his EuroNASCAR 2 debut in Spain and scored two Rookie Trophy wins with two top-10 overall results. He is just three points ahead of Mario Ercoli, who is looking to take the lead in the rookie class at his home race in Italy. Behind Linster sits Roberto Benedetti, who is second in the Legend Trophy and is looking forward to continuing his solid performances on home soil. Marko Stipp Motorsport’s Victor Neumann is tenth overall and third in the Rookie Trophy standings.

One local hero to watch out for is Simone Giussani. The Double V Racing rookie was hampered by on-track incidents at Valencia, but the young Italian led laps in the Rookie Trophy class and showed a promising pace at the wheel of the #27 Ford Mustang. The youngster wants to bounce back and have a say in the championship in front of his fans. Arianna Casoli is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most popular drivers and the Reggio Emilia native not only wants to win another Lady Trophy, but also to meet the new generation of fans and drivers, continuing her mission to be a role model for young girls who want to enter the world of motorsport.

Club Challenge: Gordon Barnes the man to beat

Three-time Club Challenge champion Gordon Barnes started the 2024 season on the right foot by winning the regularity competition at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. The British Marko Stipp Motorsport pilot will be looking to continue his winning streak and take the overall trophy for the fourth year in a row, but he will have some strong rivals to deal with. Federico Monti and Andreas Kuchelbacher are among the top contenders in the Club Challenge, and Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsports co-owner Monti is particularly keen to impress his fans at his home round. With Thomas Papa, Granducato Speed has found another Italian driver to enter the Club Challenge field. Papa will be making his first outing at the wheel of a V8 beast without any electronic aids.

With the 2024 NWES season promising close battles for all championships and trophies, the NASCAR GP Italy will for sure be a blast with thrilling racing in EuroNASCAR and its supporting series. A parade in the center of Campagnano di Roma on Thursday will be the highlight of the American-themed programme. In the old and beautiful street, fans will have the opportunity to see the cars on public roads, accompanied by the police, and to meet the drivers and teams to share great memories and the Italian dolce vita. Fans will also have the opportunity to meet their heroes during the unique grid walks. Qualifying and all races will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel and on many TV networks around the world.

EuroNASCAR PRO

Four drivers with race wins at Vallelunga – A total of four EuroNASCAR PRO drivers have won races at Vallelunga across all NWES championships: Gianmarco Ercoli, Tobias Dauenhauer, Vladimiros Tziortzis and Paul Jouffreau.

Three drivers set to make their season debuts – Davide Dallara returns to the NWES paddock, while Max Marzorati and Mario Buscemi make their NASCAR Whelen Euro Series debuts.

Toffel climbing the ranks – With his two wins in Spain, Thomas Toffel quickly went up to seventh in the Challenger Trophy’s all-time winning list with sixth. Wins in Italy would project him to sixth all-time.    

EuroNASCAR 2

A new race winner – EuroNASCAR 2 will see a new driver visit Victory Lane as no driver on the grid has ever won a race at the Autodromo di Vallelunga. The 2023 races went to Alberto Naska and Paul Jouffreau.

Eight drivers within 20 points – There are eight drivers in the championship who are separated by just 20 points. With a maximum of 88 points up for grabs, including bonus points for the most positions gained in a race, Rounds 3 and 4 could shake up the standings.

Second Italian in Victory Lane? – Only one Italian driver has ever won a EuroNASCAR 2 race at Vallelunga, but Claudio Cappelli and Mario Ercoli could be the hottest contenders to join the exclusive list at the end of the NASCAR GP Italy.

NWES PR