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BLOIS, France - The Le Mans Bugatti circuit will host the final Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series round of the 2012 season on Oct. 12-14 with everything still on the line. The title contenders will leave nothing on the table in an effort to become the inaugural Euro-Racecar champions when the series shares a bill with the FIA European Truck Racing event.
With 192 points still up for grabs at Le Mans, 12 drivers have a mathematical shot at the Elite Division title. Championship leader since the opening round at Nogaro Ander Vilarino (No. 2 TFT-Banco Santander) has recorded six race wins this season and holds a 58-point advantage over his nearest challenger Romain Thievin (No. 99 Still Racing-Exotics Racing). Having emerged from each meeting as the highest points scorer, the Spaniard will be able to drive with a degree of caution at Le Mans. This won't be the case, however, for Thievin, who has yet to visit Victory Lane in 2012. Third-place Javier Villa (No. 64 Gonneau Racing), who won at Brands Hatch and is the series' leading Junior, sits a distant 72 points in back of Vilarino despite being solid every time out. Fourth-place Antoine Lioen (No. 5 Rapido Racing) has been a consistent performer this season and, despite being unlikely to clinch the crown, will be chasing a victory in France.
The Le Mans race is completely up for grabs as any of the top 10 in points are capable of winning. The fifth through 10th positions are separated by just 42 points. Wilfried Boucenna (No. 17 Pole Position 81) currently heads this pack pursued by Romain Iannetta (No. 25 Orhès Competition), Freddy Nordström (No. 44 Orhès Competition), Romain Fournillier (No. 11 Over Drive-McDonald's), Anthony Garbarino (No. 96 TFT-Tile Alps) and Carole Perrin (No. 42 Autosport 42).
Behind them, Stéphane Jaggi (No. 22 Over Drive-Moser Vernet) and Bruno Cosin (No. 55 Pole Position 81) are level with a 182-point deficit to Vilarino. Their goal will be to break into the top 10 while also contending for the Challenger Trophy in which they compete with Nathalie Maillet (No. 46 Racing Club Partner) and Stéphane Sabates (No. 100 Still Racing-Convergence).
The Open Division showed at Valencia that nothing can be taken for granted. Following the Spanish event, a total of 16 competitors – from leader Tanguy Ide (No. 44 Orhès Competition) through Jerome Laurin (No. 55 Pole Position 81) – retain a shot at the crown. Though he is without a win this season, Ide has displayed remarkable consistency, taking nine top-10 finishes with seven of those inside the top five. Simon Escallier (No. 29 Scorpus Racing) sits just 10 points behind the leader and is in good form after netting pole position and two race wins at Valencia. Third-place Alain Grand (No. 11 Over Drive-McDonald's), who also is the leader for the Legend Trophy, shares Ide's consistent streak having recorded five top fives and eight top 10s. Next up is Vincent Gonneau (No. 15 Gonneau Racing), who was the star performer during the regular season with three wins before enduring a nightmare weekend in Spain, but still finds himself within just 21 points of Ide.
Joaquin Gabarron (No. 5 Rapido Racing) completes the top-five and is the leader for the Gentleman Trophy. Gerald Cormon (No. 25 Orhès Competition), Philippe Marie (No. 88 Orhès Competition) and David Perisset (No. 99 Still Racing-Exotics Racing) are still in the running for that award, as well.
Nothing looks to be decided in the Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series championship until the closing laps of the season finale.
Arrivals and Returns: Donald Reignoux (No. 6 Rapido Racing) rejoins the championship while Frédéric Johais (No. 33 Over Drive) also returns and steps up to the Elite Division. Racing Club Partner has added a second car, the No. 29 for Nicolas Dekejser (Elite and Open), while Simon Escallier and Stéphane Romecki take the wheel of the No. 19 Scorpus Racing entry. Finally, Anthony Garbarino will team up with Olivier Porta in the No. 96 TFT-Alpes Tile entry.
Most Popular Driver: Voting for the most popular Euro-Racecar driver will remain open until November 18. Visit the series' Facebook page (www.facebook.com/euroracecar) or the official NASCAR touring series website (www.nascarhometracks.com) and select the Euro-Racecar page. The winner will receive a watch from Race And Win and be honored at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards at the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center within the NASCAR Hall of Fame complex on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Race: Le Mans Finals
Location: Le Mans (France)
Date: Oct. 12-14
TV broadcasts: Motors TV France (BST +1) – Friday, Oct. 19 at 7:45 p.m., repeated thereafter; Motors TV UK (BST) – Saturday, Oct. 20 at 11:45 a.m., repeated thereafter; Motors TV Europe (BST +1) – Saturday, Oct. 20 at 11:05 a.m., repeated thereafter.
Circuit: Le Mans Bugatti, 2.6-mile (4.185-kilometer), 11-turn road course
Times (BST +1): Free Practice 1: Friday, 4:05 - 4.50 p.m.; Free Practice 2: Saturday, 11:20 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.; Elite Qualifying: Saturday, 2:40 p.m.; Open Qualifying: Saturday, 3 p.m.; Open Sprint Race: Saturday, 5:10 p,m.; Elite Sprint Race: Sunday, 11:20 a.m.; Endurance Race: Sunday, 3:45 p.m.
Contact: Anne Galpin, +33 6 76 04 11 89, email@example.com
Follow: www.racecarseries.com, Facebook (www.facebook.com/euroracecar), Twitter (@EURORACECAR), YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/euroracecar) and Flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/euroracecar). Live racing and daily debriefings on www.us-racing.com.
Format: The grid will consist of 24 cars in both the Elite and Open classes. The drivers of the two categories share the car during two free practice sessions of 45 minutes before each contests a 15-minute qualifying run. The event concludes with three races: Elite and Open Division sprints and then an hour-long Endurance relay.
Venue: The Bugatti circuit is not to be confused with Circuit de la Sarthe. Built in 1965, it hosted the Grand Prix de l'ACF two years later and from 1969 built an international reputation for hosting motorcycle racing (including the Bol d'Or, MotoGP and Le Mans 24 Hours) as well as international car series and the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. The latter will share the bill with EURO-RACECAR for an event that will aim to attract over 50,000 spectators, as it did in 2011.