The wait is over: after a long winter break, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is back to kick off its 2023 season at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. 29 cars were entered for the first race weekend, with 28 drivers signed up for EuroNASCAR PRO and 27 drivers in EuroNASCAR 2. A total of 48 drivers will represent 18 different countries and will put on a fantastic show at the unique Spanish venue. The first of the six events of the season is also one of the fan favorites with an amazing program full of attractions on and off the track.
The Circuit Ricardo Tormo is famous for hosting the Spanish MotoGP race and has been on the EuroNASCAR calendar since 2014. This is the ninth time in NWES history that the 4.002-kilometer track will welcome the season opener, and its arena-like layout is a favorite not only among drivers, but also among the fans, who can follow all the action from the grandstands without missing an inch of the track. Having hosted the Super Speedweek in 2020, Valencia was also the stage of the NWES Finals once and the only venue to host a EuroNASCAR double-header.
With reigning champion Alon Day not defending his title, there are no less than four former EuroNASCAR 2 champions on the grid looking to become the first driver to win both NWES titles. Gianmarco Ercoli, Ulysse Delsaux, Vittorio Ghirelli and Liam Hezemans have all won the EuroNASCAR 2 championship in their careers and now they want to fight for the title in Europe's top NASCAR division. But the competition will be fierce and with big names on the grid, the battle will be one for the ages.
CAAL Racing's Ercoli finished third in the 2022 NWES standings after an outstanding battle with Alon Day, who collected his fourth Championship ring, but a late contact with Giorgio Maggi at Automotodrom Grobnik knocked him out of contention. The Italian will fight again with Maggi, who will be back on the grid with Race Art Technology to go for the title. The Junior Trophy Champion finished fifth at the end of the 2022 season, but is still looking for his first EuroNASCAR PRO race win. Two-time NWES Champion Anthony Kumpen will be back full-time after making his comeback at Circuit Zolder in October of 2022. The Belgian, who drives and manages PK Carsport, will be chasing his third title.
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen is one of the dark horses of the 2023 EuroNASCAR PRO season, as the Dutchman scored his first NASCAR race win in 2022. The owner and driver of Team Bleekemolen finished sixth in the overall standings and will do his best to be among the title contenders this year. Frederic Gabillon is back with RDV Competition and the Frenchman wants to break the curse of being a runner-up like Mark Martin in US NASCAR Racing. Gabillon wants to fight his way back to the top and take the final step to becoming a champion. With Speedhouse owner Lucas Lasserre returning to driving duties, another potential title contender will make his comeback at the wheel of a EuroNASCAR car. The Frenchman won the championship before NASCAR officially sanctioned it in 2012.
The 2020 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Ghirelli will join Team Bleekemolen to make his way to the top of the standings. The Italian has already shown great performance in EuroNASCAR PRO and with a strong car, the Fasano native is sure to be one of the title contenders in the 2023 NWES season. Reigning EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Hezemans earned some precious experience in EuroNASCAR PRO by pulling double duties in 2022, but will now focus on following in his brother Loris' footsteps and becoming the second Hezemans to win the ENPRO championship. EuroNASCAR 2 race winners Vladimiros Tziortzis and Advait Deodhar are two more hungry drivers on the EuroNASCAR PRO grid, both of whom will be competing for Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport.
Tziortzis will certainly be a contender for the Junior Trophy for drivers under the age of 25, but he will have strong competition from Delsaux, Maggi, Thomas Krasonis, Hezemans, Neo Lambert and Thomas Dombrowski. In the Challenger Trophy, there will be a new champion for sure and therefore Deodhar, Dario Caso, Simone Laureti, Stefano Attianese, Miguel Gomes, Thomas Toffel, Fabrizio Armetta, Christoph Lenz, Riccardo Romagnoli, Kenko Miura, Max Lanza, Alina Loibnegger and Michaela Dorcikova will be fighting for the title.
The most unpredictable NWES Championship will once again feature a great mix of young talent and experienced gentleman drivers from around the world. Martin Doubek, the 2021 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion will be back on the grid with Hendriks Motorsport to fight for his second title in the second European NASCAR division, doing double duty in both divisions. The Czech will have his work cut out for him as many drivers will be gunning for gold in the 2023 EuroNASCAR 2 Championship and it would not be a surprise to see a rookie among the title contenders.
One of the favorites is Alberto Naska, who will be back with CAAL Racing. The Italian will share the #54 Chevrolet with Ercoli and will certainly benefit from his teammate's experience when it comes to set-up work. Naska lost the title battle for the 2022 season in the last races at Circuit Zolder and Automotodrom Grobnik and he's looking for revenge. The 32-year-old is ready for another exciting year of NASCAR racing and is hungry to bring home the big trophy against the strong competition in EuroNASCAR 2.
Vladimiros Tziortzis, winner of one 2022 Valencia race, is also one of the top drivers on the grid and the Cypriot is doing double duty in both championships in Valencia. The Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver may have an advantage over his rivals thanks to his extra seat time. Gil Linster grabbed his first EuroNASCAR 2 podium in 2022, and the new Hendriks Motorsport driver and Hezemans' teammate is looking to take the next steps and become a title contender in EuroNASCAR's second division. Thanks to his vast NWES experience, the Luxembourger has to be on every list of top drivers this year.
Legend Trophy Champion Melvin de Groot has also proven to be a top-5 driver in EuroNASCAR and the Dutchman, driving for Team Bleekemolen, is looking to find his way to the podium on a regular basis. With Thomas Toffel, Sven van Laere, Maximilian Mason, Nick Schneider, Gino Miedico, Nicholas Strickler and Jack Davidson, EuroNASCAR 2 offers plenty of exciting rookies for the 2023 NWES season, not only to compete for the Rookie Trophy, but also to become title contenders in the overall standings.
The Legend Trophy will be contested among a total of 15 riders, including two former champions, Arianna Casoli and Melvin de Groot, in the special category for drivers aged 40 and over. Federico Monti, Dario Caso, Paolo Valeri, Claudio Cappelli, Riccardo Romagnoli, Roberto Benedetti and Miedico form the Italian gang in the Legend Trophy, but Matthias Hauer from Germany, Kenko Miura from Japan, Yann Schar from France, van Laere from Belgium, Eric Quintal from France and the Dutchman Michael Bleekemolen will do their best to beat the competition.
A total of eleven drivers have entered the 2023 Club Challenge, the regularity-based challenge that will take place over three 30-minute sessions on Friday. A pair of two-time champions who have made back-to-back visits to Victory Lane in their careers will face off: reigning champion Gordon Barnes and Alain Mosqueron. The duo will fight to make NWES history by becoming the first ever three-time Club Challenge Champion, and with all their experience, a single tenth of a second could be the difference between victory and defeat.
The Club Challenge is the best way to explore the possibilities of EuroNASCAR and get used to the amazing V8 cars and some of the best tracks in Europe. As a result, there are a some new faces on the entry list: Victor Neumann, Edouard Fatio and Florian Richard will be joined by Federico Monti, Yann Schar, Arianna Casoli, Thomas Toffel, Viktor Schiffer and Kenko Miura, all of whom have sat in a 400hp car without any electronic driving aids in an official NWES session before. The stakes are high and each driver will try to squeeze out the maximum consistency.
Anthony Kumpen is back – The Belgian is the only former EuroNASCAR Champion on the grid and will be looking for what could be his third title.
Four EuroNASCAR 2 Champions – With Liam Hezemans, Ulysse Delsaux, Vittorio Ghirelli and Gianmarco Ercoli, four former EuroNASCAR 2 champions will try to make it to the top in the elite division of European NASCAR racing.
Neo Lambert takes a big step – From a full-time driver in the Club Challenge to a part-time driver in EuroNASCAR 2 in 2022, the Frenchman will take the big step to compete against the best European NASCAR drivers.
Alberto Naska the top contender – After missing out on the EuroNASCAR 2 title in 2022, the Italian will be the driver his competitors will have to beat to become champion.
Eight rookies make their NWES debut – A total of eight drivers will experience the pure and close racing of EuroNASCAR for the first time when the series takes to the track at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.
15 drivers in the Legend Trophy – The battle for victory in the special class for drivers 40 and older promises to be a battle for the ages with 15 drivers entered in the Legend Trophy. No fewer than eight drivers are from Italy.