Top class drivers are coming from all over the world to take part in the second event of the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season in what is shaping up as a World Championship caliber event, highlighted by a mix of superstars and up-and-coming talents with very few equals in European motorsports.
Fireworks in ELITE 1 Division
The latest additions to an incredible ELITE 1 Division starting grid are former 3-time CART / Champ Car Vice-Champion and Indy 500 polesitter Bruno Junqueira from Brazil, who will pilot the #33 Mishumotors Chevrolet SS, and legendary NASCAR Champion Bobby Labonte from the USA, whose presence at Brands Hatch at the wheel of the #1 Whelen Engineering Ford Mustang fielded by Alex Caffi Motorsport was announced on Wednesday.
“I have great memories when I raced Indycar in Brands Hatch In 2003. It is a good track with a great crowd,” said Junqueira. “I am looking forward to go back and drive a NASCAR for the first time.”
Valencia’s dominator Borja Garcia will be back, driving the #7 Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang, to defend his points lead from the assaults of DF1 Racing superstar Christophe Bouchut, who got his first podium finish at Brands Hatch in 2014, and two of the brightest emerging talents in the NWES field, Salvador Tineo Arroyo and Thomas Ferrando. The Spaniard leads the the Frenchman in the Junior Trophy and in England he won his first race of last season.
It will be up to the usual suspects to shake up the points standings after an oddly difficult season opener, starting with reigning Champion Anthony Kumpen, two time Junior Trophy winner Alon Day – the two split the Brands Hatch weekend in 2016 – and Frederic Gabillon, who is the active driver with most top-5s on the historic Kent track but still misses an elusive win in the SpeedFest.
Add to the mix a Stienes Longin pretty much willing to go for the podium as he did in Valencia, perennial contenders Freddy Nordstrom – the Swede considers the Indy Circuit his home track – and Wilfried Boucenna, a Rodrigo Gonzalez with more miles under his belt after a positive test in Italy, the return of Belgian superstar Marc Goossens from IMSA, a Gianmarco Ercoli eager to rebound, the debut of prototype specialist Alex Kapadia and you’ll have the perfect cocktail for some amazing, breathtaking door to door racing.
The battle for the Challenger Trophy will not be less interesting, as Marconi De Abreu, Jerry De Weerdt and Dario Caso will be joined by Sam Taheri – the Iranian is expanding his campaign to both divisions – and returning Fabrizio Armetta.
An unpredictable ELITE 2 Division
After two fantastic races in the season opener at Valencia, won by Thomas Ferrando and Ulysse Delsaux, unpredictability continues to be the word in an ELITE 2 Division with 10 rookies on the grid.
Ferrando leads the points standings by one single mark over his fellow countryman, fresh off his first career win and the duel is likely to continue on the historic Indy Circuit, where Ferrando has the little advantage of being the only past Brands Hatch winner on track in the division.
The obvious choice for a potential breakthrough performance is Polish Rookie Cup leader Maciej Dreszer, who comes from two podium finishes in Spain and looks poised to leave his mark in his British debut, just as PK Carsport’s Guillaume Dumarey, who trails him by three points among the rookies.
The group of potential protagonists is larger than ever, with emerging talents like Justin Kunz and Felipe Rabello knocking on the door, Martin Doubek eager for revenge after a troubled weekend at the Ricardo Tormo, Marconi Abreu and Paul Guiod looking for a place to shine, plus Gil Linster and Evan Pichard Arnaud – the youngest driver on the NWES grid with his 16 years of age – quickly progressing.
A tight and competitive group of Legend Trophy contenders will further animate the ELITE 2 races: Mirco Schultis, who leads Dario Caso by one point and Jerry De Weerdt by two, Simone Laureti, Andrea Perlini and Arianna Casoli. The Italian will also duel for the Lady Cup with returning Carmen Boix Gil, who scored an excellent top-10 overall in her NASCAR debut.
Sam Taheri will be back with strong ambitions and an expanded program after a spectacular crash in Valencia, while the new entry on the ELITE 2 grid will be Japanese driver Yuya Sakamoto, who will drive the #2 Alex Caffi Motorsport Ford Mustang and compete for the Rookie Cup. Marko Stipp will return to NWES with the new German team Racing Total.
With five past Brands Hatch winners on track, a competition level with no equals in Europe and 17 nationalities represented on the grid, it is clear that the British fans are up for some special, world class racing, mixed with the unique atmosphere and the unparalleled access that only a NASCAR Whelen Euro Series event can feature.