The 2023 EuroNASCAR Finals at Circuit Zolder is set to feature a spectacular showdown between reigning Legend Trophy champion Melvin de Groot and his strongest challenger Claudio Remigio Cappelli. The groundwork for this was placed during the NASCAR GP Germany at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, which saw Cappelli and de Groot take one win each in the special classification. Cappelli took the top step in Round 9 while de Groot did so in Round 10 by finishing in the overall top-3. The Italian, who aims for his first trophy title in EuroNASCAR, now holds a 30 point advantage over the Dutchman.
In Germany Cappelli and de Groot were separated by only 0.030 seconds in Qualifying, with the Italian taking the upper hand. The Race Art Technology driver continued this form by taking the top step of the Legend Trophy podium in Round 9 after fighting for the overall podium positions all-race long. He came close to finishing in the top-3 the next day in Round 10, but a contact with Gil Linster on the final lap destroyed his chances. Despite this, he was still classified in eighth place, putting him inside the top-3 in the special classification for drivers aged 40 and over. With 242 points to his name, the driver of the #18 Ford Mustang is seventh in the overall standings.
For de Groot, the results in Germany were highly important for his bid to defend his trophy. Because he had missed the season opening round at Valencia, the Team Bleekemolen driver had to drop those zeroes at the end of the regular season. Knowing that every point matters, the Dutchman went on a charge and delivered with his best results of the year so far. He finished sixth overall and second in the Trophy in Round 9 and took the victory in the special classification in Round 10. De Groot also survived the late race chaos in the second race to finish on the overall podium, marking his first podium at a track outside of Zolder.
Michael Bleekemolen, the 73-year old veteran, missed a podium finish in the Legend Trophy at Oschersleben. However, those results allowed him to drop his two DNFs, placing him third in the classification ahead of the finals. The patriarch of the Bleekemolen family is only three points behind his younger teammate. Another two points behind Bleekemolen sits Roberto Benedetti, who had a strong weekend in Germany. The Italian was third among the Trophy contenders in Qualifying and in Round 10.
Another Italian who finished inside the top-3 in Legend Trophy in Germany was Riccardo Romagnoli, who returned to the podium in Round 9. The driver of #65 The Club Motorsport Chevrolet is only one point away from his CAAL Racing compatriot. Sixth in the Trophy classification is Sven van Laere, once again scoring two solid finishes in his debut season. He leads the Speedhouse Racing trio of Arianna Casoli, Matthias Hauer and Eric Quintal. With her dominant performances, Casoli still maintains the lead in the Lady Trophy. The top-10 positions were rounded out by Paolo Valeri.
The Legend Trophy battle in the 2023 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will conclude on 14-15 October with the EuroNASCAR Finals at Circuit Zolder. It’ll be the sixth time that the Belgian track will host the season ending round of European’s officially sanctioned NASCAR series. All qualifying and races will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR’s YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and various television services around the world.
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