With a 48.901 fastest lap around the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Final Practice, Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) led the ELITE 1 field in the opening day of the 2017 Brands Hatch American SpeedFest, while Thomas Ferrando (#37 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang) posted the best lap time in the ELITE 2 Division.
Kumpen was the only driver to break the 49 second barrier and edged Gianmarco Ercoli (#9 Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang), who was quickest in the Junior Trophy, by two tenths of a second. Frederic Gabillon (#3 Tepac RDV Compétition Toyota Camry) trailed the Italian by .069 seconds after leading the first practice session earlier in the afternoon, while Alon Day (#54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) and points leader Borja Garcia (#9 Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang) completed the top-5.
“We feel really good about the car. We were fast in both practice sessions and there was a lot of traffic, so I think there is much more potential in the car,” said Kumpen, who last year started from the pole for the first race of the weekend and scored a fundamental win on the way to his second NWES title. “We are still not perfect with the setup but it feels quite good and we know where we have to go. The track seemed slower this afternoon than what it was in the first session, but with a first place run this last practice, I’m obviously very happy with the day. That’s what we came here to do. That’s what we want for tomorrow.”
NASCAR Cup Champion Bobby Labonte (#1 Whelen Engineering Alex Caffi Motorsport Ford Mustang), who is driving for the first time at Brands Hatch, commented on the day’s practice. Labonte said, “The car is really fast and the track is very challenging. I ran quite a few laps today to get a better feel for both car and track. I tried different lines in some of the track’s more challenging corners and was able to pick up some speed throughout the day. Turn one seemed to be the trickiest for me and turn three was the most fun, maybe because I’m used to turning left a lot more. I’m looking forward to race here this weekend and I think it’s going to be a great experience.”
Labonte also spoke during the drivers meeting, thanking NWES President / CEO, Jerome Galpin, for the opportunity to race in the series this weekend. Labonte also thanked former F1 racer Alex Caffi for providing the car and race team. Addressing his competitors for the weekend, Bobby told the room full of drivers that he heard great things about the Series and he was very impressed with what he experienced throughout the day.
Three time CART / Champcar runner-up and former Indy 500 Pole Sitter Bruno Junqueira (#33 Mavi Mishumotors Chevrolet SS) returned to Brands Hatch for the first time since 2003 to get behind the wheel of a NASCAR and posted the 14th fastest lap of the day.
“This track is really nice and it’s very fast. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven here and it’s great to be back. I love this track!” said the Brazilian. “The car is very different from what I’m used to driving. It weighs more and has less down force but it’s really fun to drive. I improved my lap times quite a bit between the two practice sessions today. I think I was a second faster in the second practice. We are going to make a few adjustments to the car and I think I’ll be even faster for the race. I feel really good about this weekend and I’m very happy to be here with the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.”
Martin Doubek (#5 Renauer Motorsport Ford Mustang) led the Challenger Trophy in 17th place.
Thomas Ferrando (#37 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang), winner of the first race this season in the ELITE 2 series, had the fastest combined practice sessions today with a hot lap of 49.481. Ferrando, a previous race winner at the historic UK track barely edged Italian racer, Gianmarco Ercoli (#9 Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang) by just 6/100ths of a second. Guillaume Dumarey (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS), who was blistering fast in the first session, ranked third overall in his first time on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, leading the Rookie Cup classification. NASCAR Cup Champion Bobby Labonte (#1 Whelen Engineering Alex Caffi Motorsport Ford Mustang) clocked the fourth fastest time of the day, while Justin Kunz (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) rounded out the top 5.
Jerry De Weerdt (#78 Brass Racing Ford Mustang) led the Legend Trophy in 13th place, while Arianna Casoli (#54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) was fastest in the Lady Cup.
Enhanced Live Streaming For The Brands Hatch American SpeedFest
Starting from the first ELITE 1 race of the weekend on Saturday at 2:25 pm CET (8:25 am ET), the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series fans will enjoy an enhanced Live Streaming on Fanschoice.tv and on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Facebook page, featuring a multi-camera coverage.
The Live Streaming Schedule for the Brands Hatch American SpeedFest is the following:
SATURDAY JUNE 10
ELITE 1 Qualy & Superpole - 10:20 am CET (4:20 am ET )
ELITE 2 Qualy & Superpole - 10:38 am CET (4:38 am ET)
ELITE 1 Round 3 - 2:25 pm CET (8:25 am ET) ENHANCED LIVE STREAMING
ELITE 2 Round 3 - 6:05 pm CET (12:05 pm ET) ENHANCED LIVE STREAMING
SUNDAY JUNE 11
ELITE 1 Round 4 - 2:30 pm CET (8:30 am ET) ENHANCED LIVE STREAMING
ELITE 2 Round 4 - 5:30 pm CET (11:30 am ET) ENHANCED LIVE STREAMING