NASCAR Whelen Euro Series competitors battle for supremacy Saturday at Automotodrom Grobnik. (Bart Dehaese Photo)
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series competitors battle for supremacy Saturday at Automotodrom Grobnik. (Bart Dehaese Photo)

Penalty Hands Hezemans Grobnik Victory

CAVLE, Croatia – The second driver who crossed the finish line in Saturday’s EuroNASCAR PRO event at Automotodrom Grobnik was the one who got to go to victory lane. 

A penalty for Gianmarco Ercoli due a start infringement made Loris Hezemans the winner. The Dutchman scored his fourth win of the season and expanded his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship lead. His teammate, Vittorio Ghirelli, ended up second, while 1997 Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve stood on the podium for the first time this year.

Hezemans started from pole, surrendered the lead to Ercoli in the first corner. In 2021, drivers have to drive through the grid markers at the start, but Ercoli was too close to Hezemans before crossing the start-finish line and was therefore had a 10-second penalty added to his total race time. Hezemans spent most of the race on the tail of the CAAL Racing Mustang without finding a way past the Italian. When the penalty was issued to Ercoli, Hezemans did not take any risk, survived a late restart and won the race. 

“I still wanted to pass him fair and clean but it’s quite hard when you get pushed into the grass every time you’re next to him”, said Hezemans, who celebrated his 11th EuroNASCAR PRO win. “There is not much of an option you can use. He likes to complain but for me it’s no problem. In the end it was very good and I was very happy with the car. I’m also happy with the results we are getting in event after event. So far it has been a very good season but it’s going to be close as I’m going to miss Zolder. The reasons for this will be announced soon but I can tell you it’s great stuff coming up.”

Ghirelli ended up second behind his teammate. The Italian, who scored his maiden EuroNASCAR PRO win at Most, is still the fiercest rival of Hezemans with a 23 point deficit to the championship leader. The Hendriks Motorsport driver bested a strong Villeneuve, who scored his fifth podium finish in EuroNASCAR and the first for Academy Motorsport/Alex Caffi Motorsport.  

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