Ghirelli and Linster master the challenging Vallelunga circuit in Free Practice

The NASCAR GP Italy is finally back with the fifth edition of the American Festival of Rome at Autodromo di Vallelunga. Located just north of the Italian capital of Rome, the 4.085-kilometer circuit belongs to the most challenging tracks on the schedule according to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series drivers due to the many different types of corners that need to be mastered in order to achieve the maximum results. After two free practice sessions for both EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2, Vittorio Ghirelli and Gil Linster ended the day as the fastest in their respective divisions.

Ghirelli is the current championship leader in EuroNASCAR’s top division and will be aiming to win in front of his home fans, both to extend his lead from his closest rivals and to satisfy the Italian’s desire for a hometown winner. For Linster, leading the practice sessions is a step in the right direction. The Luxembourgish driver lost important points in the contacts with his Hendriks Motorsport teammate Martin Doubek at Valencia and is focused on regaining as much ground as possible in the two races that will come on Saturday and Sunday.

EuroNASCAR PRO: Ghirelli stays at top form

Ghirelli’s renewed partnership with PK Carsport started strongly with a victory and a second place finish in Spain. Eager to keep his momentum, the Italian delivered on the opening day with the fastest lap time in EuroNASCAR PRO’s practice. With a time of 1:40.597, the driver of the #24 Chevrolet Camaro was more than half a second ahead of talented youngster Liam Hezemans. Hendriks Motorsport’s stalwart driver still claimed the top spot in the Junior Trophy for drivers aged 25 and under.

Fabrizio Armetta showed that his Valencia form was not a fluke by setting the third fastest time. The driver of Club Motorsport’s #55 Chevrolet Camaro wants to impress in his home race after being involved in the Big One in Spain left him with a lot of work on his car. Fourth was Marc Goossens, one of the closest rivals to Ghirelli in the standings. The Belgian veteran led Team Bleekemolen teammate Sebastiaan Bleekemolen to round out the top-5 in the combined timesheets.

Vladimiros Tziortzis was sixth onboard the #1 Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport Ford Mustang. The Cypriot switched rides inside the team when he signed a new sponsorship deal with HTFX. Paul Jouffreau was seventh ahead of reigning champion Gianmarco Ercoli, who will have some homework to do before Saturday’s Qualifying. Doubek and Ulysse Delsaux completed the top-10 positions ahead of Tobias Dauenhauer, who was third fastest in the Junior Trophy.

The Challenger Trophy was once again led by Thomas Toffel in 13th overall. The Swiss driver was sandwiched by Junior Trophy competitors Thomas Krasonis and Ryan Vargas, both aiming to continue their trophy podium finishing streak in Italy. Italians Riccardo Romagnoli and Davide Dallara followed Toffel in 15th and 17th, giving the Tifosi something to look for in the special classification for elite amateurs. Debutants Max Marzorati and Mario Buscemi ended the day in 23rd and 26th positions.

EuroNASCAR 2: Linster leads from Doubek and Schober

Linster was still reeling from the after effects of his incident with Doubek at Valencia, but he didn’t let that mess with his focus. The driver of the #50 Toyota Camry for Hendriks Motorsport affirmed his domination in EuroNASCAR 2’s practice sessions with a lap time of 1:42.026, 0.591 seconds ahead of teammate Doubek. The Czech driver led the first session, but issues in the second one prevented the 2021 champion from turning a single complete lap.

RDV Competition’s Patrick Schober is still the closest challenger to the two Hendriks drivers with a third place finish in the combined results, just 0.013 seconds behind championship leader Doubek. Race Art Technology’s Thomas Toffel continues his strong form in fourth ahead of headline maker Simone Giussani. Already familiar with the track through his time in Legends Cars, the Italian quickly got to grips with the #27 Double V Racing Ford Mustang and used his experience to not only finish fifth overall, but also to be the fastest in Rookie Trophy.

Another Italian driver followed Giussani in sixth place: Roberto Benedetti. The Roman native is a strong contender for the Legend Trophy and set the baseline in the special classification for drivers aged 40 and over. Thomas Krasonis was seventh ahead of Melvin de Groot and Claudio Cappelli, both filling the top-3 positions in the Legend Trophy. Lux Motorsport driver Jack Davidson recovered from issues in the first practice session to bring home a top-10 result with the distinctive #21 Chevrolet Camaro.

Top-3 in the Rookie Trophy was rounded out by Mario Ercoli and Victor Neumann, twelfth and thirteenth in the combined results respectively. Top spot in the Lady Trophy for the fastest female driver was once again taken by Arianna Casoli, 21st in the final times. Casoli is participating in her ninth NASCAR GP Italy, a record among the EuroNASCAR 2 drivers.

The V8 powered machines will roar again on Saturday with the Qualifying session and first Races for both EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2. All qualifying sessions and races from the season, including the 2024 NASCAR GP Italy, will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel and numerous TV channels around the world.

EuroNASCAR PRO Results | EuroNASCAR 2 Results