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NOGARO, France – Ander Vilarino wrote his name in the history books Sunday, becoming the first Euro-Racecar winner under the NASCAR banner with his victory in the Elite Division Sprint portion of the Nogaro 200. The win came before a capacity crowd at Circuit Paul Armagnac amid rain and cold temperatures.
Vilarino posted the top time in Friday’s practice and earned the pole position in Saturday’s qualifying.
But on the first turn of the 25-minute event, Romain Thievin jumped into the lead.
RESULTS: ELITE DIVISION SPRINT
Vilarino finally took the lead back with a bold move in the hairpin of the aerodrome on Lap 10. Following a heated door-to-door exchange, Vilarino was able to pull away for the win by 1.543 seconds.
“I’m so proud to win the first ever NASCAR Touring Series race in Europe,” said Vilarino. “The wet conditions made the race more difficult than expected. In this championship, it is important to finish in the top 5 because the gap between drivers is so tight. A mistake and you lose lots of points. From the start I tried to come back to Romain but it was tough with the followers behind me. I succeeded at the end but only for a few.”
Thievin held off Dimitri Enjalbert and Javier Villa in the final meters for second.
“I live in Las Vegas for 2 years and I forgot what racing under the rain is,” joked Thieven, the 2011 series runner-up. “The start of the race was like a drift race. I had a good car and so I succeed in overtaking Ander and taking the lead. From mid-race, I was less easy with the car. When Ander overtook me he was a bit faster and so it was normal. We touched a little bit but this is NASCAR. I never gave up because I still targeted the podium. It will be a big fight all year long!”
Enjalbert finished third, followed by Javier Villa and Romain Iannetta.
Villa earned the Junior Trophy, given to the top drivers 25-years-old or younger, ahead of Romain Fournillier and Vincent Gonneau.
Fourniller was sixth overall, followed by Gregory Guilvert , Vincent Gonneau, Wilfried Boucenna and Harry Vaulkhard.
The Nogaro 200 concludes Monday with the Elite Division endurance race (1-hour) at 11:05 a.m. GMT+1, followed by the Open Division -- for amateur drivers -- at 4:20 p.m.
Ander Vilarino (2) passes Romain Thievin for the lead in the Elite Sprint portion of the Nogaro 200 Sunday. Mag Racing