Right time, right place: Consistency brings Ulysse Delsaux to the top of the Junior Trophy

A familiar face has exited the NASCAR GP Italy at Autodromo di Vallelunga as the new leader in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Junior Trophy. At the end of a strong weekend in Italy, the 2018 EuroNASCAR 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux took the lead in the special classification for young drivers at the age of 25 years old and under. A double top-10 overall finish and two podiums in the Junior Trophy were enough for Delsaux to become the new leader in the championship, five points ahead of Vladimiros Tziortzis who took a trophy win in Round 6.

Delsaux is in his last year of eligibility in the Junior Trophy and set his sights to win the Trophy when he announced his move to Speedhouse during the pre-season. Consistency has been his strong point in the 2023 season as he continued to rack up strong finishes while his rivals got into trouble that cost them important points. He is currently sixth in the overall standings with 170 points, just two points down from Marc Goossens in fifth place.

Vladimiros Tziortzis did not experience the best of rounds in the home race of his team Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport, but he managed to add another Junior Trophy victory to his already impressive resume. Tziortzis barely missed the podium of the special classification with a seventh place finish in Round 5, but he was handed the victory in Round 6 when initial winner Paul Jouffreau received a post-race penalty. With three rounds to go and double points on the line for the finale at Zolder, there’s still plenty of opportunity for the Cypriot driver to take the overall triumph on his debut season in EuroNASCAR PRO.

Tziortzis is not the only Junior Trophy driver to be doing the double duty at Vallelunga as he was joined by a rival of his: Jouffreau. The Frenchman is replacing series legend Frederic Gabillon on the #3 RDV Competition Ford Mustang for the rest of the season and managed to steal the headlines. Being consistently in the top-5 all week long, Jouffreau’s performance was rewarded with an overall podium finish and a Junior Trophy podium on his debut race. Jouffreau then scored another Junior Trophy podium on the following day and has certainly established himself as a driver to watch for the future.

Another young driver that made great impressions on their debut race in EuroNASCAR PRO was Finland’s Tuomas Pontinen, who made his return to the championship after securing a last-minute deal with Marko Stipp Motorsport. The Finn did not visit the Junior Trophy podium, but he scored a double top-10 finish and showed that he’s ready to compete against the best in EuroNASCAR with the overtaking maneuvers that he did to top drivers such as Anthony Kumpen and Marc Goossens. Pontinen’s deal with Marko Stipp Motorsport is currently a one-time opportunity, but he will be a potential candidate for Junior Trophy victory should he return with the German team for the rest of the season.

The phrase ‘third time’s the charm’ sadly doesn’t apply to Liam Hezemans after he encountered troubles yet again. The Hendriks Motorsport driver took home the victory in Junior Trophy with his runner-up finish in Round 5, but an unscheduled pit stop on Round 6 left him one lap down. Despite these issues, the reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion is only twelve points away from Delsaux and is also ten points ahead of Thomas Krasonis in fourth. Krasonis is four points ahead of Giorgio Maggi, who is relegated from the top of the Junior Trophy to fifth after suffering two retirements at Vallelunga. Neo Lambert is sixth ahead of Tobias Dauenhauer and Thomas Dombrowski while Jouffreau and Pontinen close out the top-10 positions in the overall table.

The V8 powered “Pure Racing” beasts of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will be enjoying their summer break before resuming their thundering roar on 26-27 August with the NASCAR GP Czech Republic at Autodrom Most. All qualifying and races will be streamed live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and various television services around the world.