The first two dates NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Recruitment Days were a resounding success: no less than 80 drivers coming from all over the world and with the most disparate backgrounds took the wheel of a Euro NASCAR car in four days and were all impressed by the fantastic “Pure Racing” feeling of driving the cars that bring NASCAR to Europe. Selected drivers will receive financial help for their 2018 season in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Four NWES cars flawlessly underwent a total of over 120 hours of intense testing, confirming the car’s excellent reputation for reliability and maintenance and many special guests joined the tests both in France and Italy to have fun driving Euro NASCAR. NASCAR legend Bobby Labonte drove in France, while in Italy Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, motorcycling icon Marco Melandri, WTCC driver Kris Richard and Italian TV commentator Guido Meda all had a taste of the NWES car.
Thirteen countries were represented in the two test meetings. Among the 80 drivers attending the tests and featuring the most different backgrounds, 2016 FIA European Touring Car Cup champion Kris Richard flew in straight from Qatar after finish 6th in WTCC’s last round of the season, 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup Winner Jean Glorieux, Bathurst 12h winner Wolfgang Reip, TCR driver Mathieu Detry and endurance driver Maxime Pampel joined from Belgium, while Pegasus Racing team owner Julien Schell and GT driver Romain Monti represented France. V8 Thunder Champion Alexander Graff joined from Sweden, while from Italy came 2013 Auto GP champion Vittorio Ghirelli and 2014 Euro V8 Series champion Francesco Sini, from the Netherlands GT and touring car top driver Loris Hezemans, from South Africa F4 driver Stuart White, from the UK 19-yo Ginetta driver Alex Sedgwick and from Ireland karting talent Ross Hayes. Three drivers with NASCAR experience flew straight from the US: Max Tullman, Will Rodgers and Nicolas Hamman. All of them found an immediate similarity between the cars they drove in the States and their European counterparts, adapting quickly and consistently posting fast laps.
The drivers participating in the NWES Recruitment program also received advice from some of the protagonists of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series: two-time points runner-up Frederic Gabillon and 2010 champion Lucas Lasserre attended the French date, while two-time champion Anthony Kumpen and 2015 ELITE 2 Champion Gianmarco Ercoli visited in Italy.
The drivers selected for the next step in the NWES Recruitment Program after the first two tests will be announced in the upcoming weeks and will receive financial help for their 2018 Euro NASCAR season from the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and its partners.
Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
BOBBY LABONTE - “It was great to be back behind the wheel of a NWES car to know more about it and work on shaving off the last tenth of a second to be more competitive if I’ll have the chance to race again,” said Labonte, who in 2017 took part in the Brands Hatch weekend finishing in the top-10. “I was impressed with everybody that I talked to while I was there and took the time to ask me questions. I tried to give them the best advice that I could and everybody was super nice and very appreciative.”
DANIIL KVYAT - “It was good fun! My friend Alex Caffi asked me if I wanted to have some fun and try something new so I took the opportunity. I immediately had good confidence with the car and it’s good fun to drive it,” said Kvyat, who is focused on his Formula 1 career and took the test as an opportunity to drive something completely new for him. “I really enjoyed myself today. The car is easy to handle and has nice reactivity in the chicanes. It’s very nice and easy and funny.”
MARCO MELANDRI - “I always loved cars and when I have this kind of opportunities I like to take them. These cars are like social networks: unfiltered. It’s just you, the engine, the gearbox, the steering wheel and the pedals. It’s just you making a difference and it’s very funny, it’s like a big go-kart.”
KRIS RICHARD - “It’s amazing. I didn’t expect it. You go out and you can immediately handle it easily with the throttle. The back is coming a little bit on the exit and you can catch it. You can go on the kerbs The gear shifting is perfect. There’s the right amount of power and torque. I love it!”
GUIDO MEDA - “It’s awesome. I think this is the perfect car to let people understand what it means to drive doing things with your hands and feet. There’s nothing between you and the car and it becomes an extension of you and the American V8 sound further adds to it. I would never stop driving it!”
FREDERIC GABILLON - “There was a very interesting mix of young talents and experienced drivers and they all loved the car. It is a very positive initiative to let as many drivers as possible to experience what it means to be in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and I am very happy to have helped new drivers learn the car.”
ANTHONY KUMPEN - “This program is a great initiative. New drivers are getting to know Euro NASCAR. I talked to a lot of them and they are all astonished by how good the car drives and I’m sure we’ll see many of them on the grid in 2018.”
NICOLAS HAMMANN - “The car is a blast to drive, even in this cold conditions. It is very well balanced and responsive, you can carry good speed in the corners. I really enjoyed driving it and I had a lot of fun!”
WILL RODGERS - “We put down some very good laps. I’m getting more and more comfortable in the car and I’m having a lot of fun. I love driving these cars, There are differences with what we drive in the US but it works very well. I can imagine the racing is spectacular so I’m really looking forward to do some next year”
MAX TULLMAN - “It’s a lot like a late model, but on a road course and it’s a lot of fun. I like The car balance is perfect, it feels light and reactive and it’s a lot of fun even in very cold weather. I think the fact it can run 3 seasons on an engine and a gearbox makes it really attractive for teams and drivers.”
Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series