NASCAR GP Italy Preview: EuroNASCAR gladiators set to take on the Autodromo di Vallelunga

For the fourth time in its history, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series heads to the Autodromo di Vallelunga Piero Taruffi for the NASCAR GP Italy. The American Festival of Rome will offer a host of on- and off-track attractions for racing enthusiasts and the entire family. Four European NASCAR races – two in each championship – will highlight the rich program. At the halfway point of the 2023 season, drivers will be looking to lay the groundwork for the decisive part of the championship battle. The 4.085-kilometer track guarantees spectacular door-to-door battles, and tens of thousands of fans at the track and at home in front of their televisions are expecting an epic event near Italy’s capital, Rome.

The 13-turn Autodromo di Vallelunga has a rich history in motor racing since it opened in 1951 as a dirt oval. The track was paved in 1957 and redesigned to host Grand Prix races in the 1960s. The circuit is named after Formula One driver Piero Taruffi, who was also involved in the creation of the current layout, which was last improved in 2004 with the addition of a 0.863-kilometer section. The nostalgic oval is still part of the track, as drivers have to tackle the banked turn 13, named “Roma”, which leads to the start-finish straight. Today, Vallelunga is famous for its fast corners in the first half of the track and twisting sections in the final sector.

EuroNASCAR PRO

The reigning King of Brands Hatch, Gianmarco Ercoli, visits his home circuit as the championship leader. With two wins in the United Kingdom under his belt, the CAAL Racing driver is eager to celebrate more victories with his friends and family from Rome, who will surely be cheering on their local hero. Despite his race wins at Brands Hatch, the Rome-born driver is only four points ahead of Valencia race winner: Speedhouse driver-owner Lucas Lasserre. At the wheel of the #64 Ford Mustang, the Frenchman will use all his experience to regain the championship lead from Ercoli.

Another title contender sits in third place, just six points behind Ercoli: Anthony Kumpen. The two-time champion and PK Carsport team manager will be back in the #24 Chevrolet Camaro to fight for his first win of the season. So far, the Belgian has impressed with his consistency, scoring three top-5 and four top-10 finishes in four races. CAAL Racing’s Marc Goossens, another experienced driver, follows in fourth, while 2021 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Martin Doubek completes the top-5 at the wheel of the #7 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang. 

Four drivers are looking to bounce back and close the gap in the standings after setbacks at Valencia and Brands Hatch. Vittorio Ghirelli, Giorgio Maggi, reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion Liam Hezemans and Vladimiros Tziortzis will do their best to find their way back into title contention, but there’s no room for mistakes. Despite not having the best of luck, Switzerland’s Maggi is leading the Junior Trophy standings. The Race Art Technology driver and reigning Junior Trophy champion is seventh ahead of Ulysse Delsaux and Hezemans. In the Challenger Trophy, Fabrizio Armetta leads the special classification in tenth place ahead of Advait Deodhar and Riccardo Romagnoli.

EuroNASCAR 2

One man has a big target on his back, but it will be no easy task to beat the EuroNASCAR 2 dominator in Italy. Vladimiros Tziortzis has won all four races of the 2023 so far and built a comfortable lead in the overall standings. Will the Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver be able to equal Stienes Longin’s 2016 record of five consecutive victories in EuroNASCAR 2? The Cypriot has what it takes to take another step towards the title, but there will be one driver who will be carried to victory by his home fans. 

Alberto Naska attracts tens of thousands of his loyal fans to EuroNASCAR and therefore the Tricolore will be shown everywhere around the four-kilometer track. The 2022 runner-up will be back in the #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro and will do his best to beat Tziortzis and close the gap in the overall standings, where he’s second with a deficit of 21 points to catch on his home round. 

After collecting his first laps in the lead in the rain, Paul Jouffreau wants to keep the momentum and score his fifth consecutive podium finish. The RDV Competition driver from France is chasing his first NASCAR win and doubles up by taking part in both NWES championships for the rest of the season. He’s followed by Hendriks Motorsport’s Gil Linster and former champion Martin Doubek. The best rookie so far is Thomas Dombrowski in sixth place. He is ahead of Jack Davidson and Nicholas Strickler. Best Legend Trophy driver is another home crowd hero in Riccardo Romagnoli, who currently sits seventh ahead of Claudio Cappelli and Michael Bleekemolen. Fan favorite Arianna Casoli leads the Lady Trophy.

On Friday, the Club Challenge will be back in action for Round 2 of the 2023 NWES season. Eleven drivers are entered for the regularity test, with two champions on the grid – Gordon Barnes and Alain Mosqueron – looking for their first win of the season. All of the action from the American Festival of Rome, July 8-9, will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and various TV services around the world. Qualifying and all races will be broadcast live on Saturday and Sunday. 

EuroNASCAR PRO

Paul Jouffreau makes ENPRO debut – The Frenchman will be doing double duty for RDV Competition, driving the #3 Ford Mustang in his first ever EuroNASCAR PRO start. 

Two race winners on the grid – Gianmarco Ercoli is the only active EuroNASCAR PRO driver with a race win at Vallelunga. Bremotion’s Tobias Dauenhauer boasts three EuroNASCAR 2 race wins at the Italian track.

Nine drivers set for home race – In EuroNASCAR PRO, a total of nine drivers will enjoy their home NASCAR GP in Italy.

EuroNASCAR 2

New team on the rise – Über Modern Racing will make its NWES debut with the #75 Chevrolet Camaro for Olivier Bec, while Hugo Fleury will race in EuroNASCAR PRO.

Tziortzis and Naska on the same level – The two championship contenders both have fond memories of Vallelunga, as Naska scored a race win there in 2022, while Tziortzis earned his fifth career pole position at the 4.085-kilometer track last year.

Nine drivers on home soil – In addition to the nine EuroNASCAR PRO drivers, nine EuroNASCAR 2 stars will compete in their home race, bringing the number of local heroes to 18.

NWES PR