The King of Brands Hatch: Gianmarco Ercoli sweeps the American SpeedFest X

A new King of Brands Hatch has been crowned and the reign of Gianmarco Ercoli is undisputed. The Italian took his second consecutive win to sweep the NASCAR GP UK at the 1.9 kilometer long Brands Hatch Indy Circuit and took over the EuroNASCAR PRO championship lead. With the red Whelen Banner in his hand and the Titanium Ring – the Tijey Fastest Driver Award – on his finger, the CAAL Racing driver celebrated a perfect race weekend with thousands of fans in the Victory Lane of the American SpeedFest X after managing his Hoosier Racing Tires in a dramatic Round 4 of the championship. 

Before the 38 laps race on Sunday, teams were in a tough spot because of a heavy chance of rain but the weather fortunately held up. Ercoli defended his lead at the start from Pole Position but Hezemans, who got past Vittorio Ghirelli, was throwing one attack after another against the Italian. An unfortunate off road moment for Hezemans forced the Hendriks Motorsport driver to the pits and to retire from the race. Ercoli found himself in a comfortable lead while the battles for the remaining spots on the podium were true nail biters. 

After a horrific crash involving Ercoli’s teammate Massimiliano Lanza on lap 26 in turn 1, the safety car pulled onto the track and the field got bunched up again with five laps to go. With the late sprint to the finish ahead of him, the Rome native once again made a phenomenal start to keep Anthony Kumpen at bay and bring home CAAL Racing’s tenth win at Brands Hatch in ten years across both championships. It was Ercoli’s third Brands Hatch race win and the team’s eighth in EuroNASCAR PRO in the UK. 

“I worked a lot for this as the red Whelen banner is very important for me!” said Ercoli, who secured his eighth career victory in EuroNASCAR PRO. “It was difficult in the first part because Hezemans had very good speed, but after that I managed my car to the end. The rain that fell overnight caused some trouble as it changed the grip level. I always had understeer, but I managed it and I was able to go to Victory Lane!”

Kumpen finished second in the end and also took over third place in the overall standings. The driver of the #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro stated that he did not have the car to match Ercoli’s speed and therefore focused on retaining a second place finish that put the Belgian in a good position to fight for his third EuroNASCAR PRO title. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen followed in third, scoring his first podium finish of the season with his family team from the Netherlands. The Dutchman therefore jumped to seventh in the overall standings and laid the foundation to find his way back into title contention. 

Lucas Lasserre started from ninth and carved his way up the ranks up to fourth place. The Speedhouse owner lost the championship lead to Ercoli but with a gap of only four points, the Frenchman is still one of the hottest title contenders in the 2023 NWES season. Lasserre finished right ahead of 2021 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Martin Doubek, who closed the top-5 after intense battles with Lasserre and Giorgio Maggi, who went off track due to contact with Tobias Dauenhauer on the very last lap in Surtees and fell back to 16th place. 

Fabrizio Armetta brought home his #55 The Club Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro in sixth to take the win in the Challenger Trophy. His teammate Ricciardo Romagnoli finished right behind him, securing his career best finish in EuroNASCAR PRO and the second step of the special classification’s podium. After starting last, Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver Vladimiros Tziortzis drove “one of the hardest races of his life” with plenty of overtaking maneuvers. The Cypriot finished eighth and therefore scored the win in the Junior Trophy for drivers aged 25 and under. He also received the four bonus points for the most overtakes in the race. 

Neo Lambert and Ulysse Delsaux closed the top-10 and rounded out the podium for young drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO. The Challenger Trophy podium was completed by Advait Deodhar, who ended up 13th under the checkered flag. Besides Hezemans, Ghirelli had issues during the race with his car and slipped back to 14th – he was also penalized for a false start. Tobias Dauenhauer, who received a five-second penalty for violations in the starting procedure of the race, also got a post-race time penalty for his incident with Maggi that relegated him to 18th position. 

Ten thousands of fans held their breath when Lanza crashed his car in Paddock Hill Bend on lap 26. The Italian slammed into the tire barrier that caused his #88 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro to flip. Lanza was able to walk away from the scene on his own power and stated on social media to be uninjured. The Italian powerhouse will try to repair the car for the EuroNASCAR 2 race in the afternoon. Roberto Benedetti could therefore get a chance to be back in action at the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch. 

While the EuroNASCAR PRO will be back in action on July 8-9 at Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy, the EuroNASCAR 2 field will highlight the anniversary of the American SpeedFest X. The race will be broadcast on 17:25 CEST on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, and several TV services from all around the world. The American SpeedFest will highlight the NWES calendar until at least 2028.