Italian fans are in party mode after two compatriots won the Pole Awards for the NASCAR GP Italy at the Autodromo di Vallelunga. Gianmarco Ercoli stormed to the top spot in the Superole for EuroNASCAR PRO Round 5, while Alberto Naska set the fastest lap in a hectic EuroNASCAR 2 session. For the two local heroes, it was their first Pole Award in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Ercoli has held pole position twice in his EuroNASCAR PRO career, but only in Sunday races for which the grid is determined by the fastest lap time in Saturday’s rounds. After four consecutive pole positions for Vladimiros Tziortzis in EuroNASCAR 2, Naska topped the standings for the first time in his career.
EuroNASCAR PRO: Ercoli on fire
In Q1, Ercoli set the second fastest lap behind rival Alon Day to qualify for the Superpole shootout for the top 10 drivers. Like Day, the Italian only completed three laps in Q1 and therefore saved his tires in the scorching sun of Vallelunga. In Superpole, a stellar 1:40.608m was key to securing Pole Position. The CAAL Racing driver was 0.132 seconds faster than Day, who will start alongside Ercoli in EuroNASCAR PRO Round 5.
“I’m very happy because it’s my first Pole Position in Qualifying,” said a happy Ercoli after Superpole. “I always have a good speed in Race 1 to start in Pole Position in Race 2, but it’s my first time in Qualifying and I’m very happy! I’m very happy to have the race at home because it’s good for the sponsors and for the fans, so I have the power of the fans and it’s very pleasant!
Day and Ercoli faced off at the Brands Hatch circuit and will now start side by side when the green flag is waved. The Israeli is certainly set to fight back and gain ground on championship leader Nicolo Rocca, who finished eighth in qualifying. The PK Carsport driver edged out Giorgio Maggi, who continued the momentum he had gained with his second EuroNASCAR PRO podium in the UK. The Swiss also topped the Junior Trophy standings for drivers aged 25 and under.
Changing cars within the Not Only Motorsport organization seemed like the right decision for Vittorio Ghirelli. The Italian had a difficult start to the season but responded with a solid fourth place in qualifying in the #89 Chevrolet Camaro. He was followed by Patrick Lemarie, who closed the top-5. Brands Hatch race winner Alexander Graff finished sixth ahead of Marc Goossens and Rocca, while Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and defending EuroNASCAR 2 champion Martin Doubek rounded out the top 10.
Liam Hezemans, who again doubles up, and Thomas Ferrando complete the Junior Trophy podium in 12th and 13th places. Henri Tuomaala was the fastest of the Challenger Trophy drivers in 15th position overall, followed by Davide Dallara and Fabrizio Armetta. EuroNASCAR PRO Round 5 kicks off on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. CEST and will be streamed on the NWES YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and numerous television services around the world.
EuroNASCAR 2: Naska worn by thousands of fans
It must be a perfect weekend for Naska: the Italian has a huge crowd of fans around his pit and his #88 CAAL Racing Chevrolet Camaro is incredibly fast. With a time of 1:41.024, Naska climbed to the top of the standings in a session that ended early due to a crash involving Janne Koikkalainen on the start straight. The Finn triggered the third red flag of the 20-minute session, which could not resume due to debris on the track. Dario Caso and Leonardo Colavita also stopped on the track, causing the other two previous interruptions.
“It’s the best feeling in the world, it’s wonderful to see all these people coming here for EuroNASCAR and also for me!” said Naska after scoring its first pole position. “Qualifying was the weirdest qualifying I’ve ever seen because I couldn’t do a single clean lap, the only clean lap I had was Pole Position but it was a lap with a lot of mistakes. In the next lap, I almost equaled the EuroNASCAR PRO pole, but the third red flag came and I was really angry. Luckily, I got the pole position!
Naska, who was also the fastest Rookie Trophy driver, covered the four-kilometre track 0.467 seconds faster than Tziortzis, who missed pole position for the first time in the 2022 EuroNASCAR 2 season. edged out defending champion Doubek and Brands Hatch race winner Hezemans finished fourth. Christian Malcharek closed out the top 5 after a solid run in his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro.
The second fastest rookie in qualifying, Tuomas Pontinen followed in sixth, while 2018 EuroNASCAR 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux landed in seventh place. Melvin de Groot once again topped the Legend Trophy standings in eighth position with Claudio Cappelli and Gil Linster closing the top 10. Aliyyah Koloc was the fastest Lady Trophy rider in 14th position. EuroNASCAR 2 Round 5 will begin at 4:40 p.m. CEST and will be broadcast on the NWES YouTube channel, Motorsport.tv and numerous television services around the world.