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With the long term partnership signed with its American model, a new era begins for the EURO-RACECAR, the first official NASCAR series in Europe.
EURO-RACECAR, in its first season as a sanctioned NASCAR Touring Series, kicks off the 2012 season with the Nogaro 200 at Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro, France April 6-9.
In Nogaro, 25 cars - Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang or Dodge Charger and Challenger - will be on the grid. Nearly 50 drivers will enter the 2 Championships ELITE and OPEN.
“It is a great honor for all our drivers, this weekend, the first poleman and the first winner will enter the NASCAR history and be part of NASCAR familly”, said Jerome Galpin, founder and promoter of EURO-RACECAR NASCAR Touring Series. “I’m particularly glad this happens in Nogaro. This is the hometown of the series, where it first ever raced.”
This championship runs tubular chassis racecars weighing 1170 kilos and powered by 5.7 litres V8 engined developing 450 hp, the grid is highly international. The entry list includes drivers from seven countries: France, Spain, England, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Sweden.
“We are happy to offer an international grid of such a high level,” said Jerome Galpin. “The level is higher than these past years and everything can happen. We’re very happy to welcome talented young drivers who will fight for the Junior title but for the victory, too.”
As said by the organizer, the level of entrants is particularly high with fights all over the pack both in ELITE and OPEN championships or for the Junior, Challenger, Gentleman or Legend Trophies.
Who will become the first ever European NASCAR Touring Series Champion? Not only will the winner be honored on the stage during the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards Gala at the end of the season, but the driver will earned a locked-in spot to compete at the UNOH Battle At The Beach during 2013 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.
Among the drivers to watch include France's Romain Thievin and Romain Iannetta, and Spain's Ander Vilarino, as well as rookies Gregory Guilvert and Dimitri Enjalbert of France, and England's Nigel Greensall, Harry Vaulkhard, and James Winslow. Top Juniors drivers include France's Willy Boucenna, Romain Fournillier, Vincent Gonneau, Valentin Simonnet and Carole Perrin, and Sweden's Freddy Nordström.
For this opening event, Bob Duvall, NASCAR Director, Weekly & Touring Business Development, and Richard Buck, Director of Touring Series, North America, will be there. Both will be particularly attentive to the development of the series.
“They will be special consultants on this first NASCAR Touring Series race organized in Europe. We will develop our collaboration on many technical points and so work on all the improvements to make of EURO-RACECAR NASCAR Touring Series a major European championship and the natural channel to the USA”, concluded Jerome Galpin.
The champion hangs back the helmet: 2011 champion Eric Helary is now retired from driving. Now living in Toulouse, France, he will still be involved in EURO-RACECAR NASCAR Touring Series but as the team manager of Still Racing who enters 2 Chevrolet Camaro and 1 Dodge Challenger.
Two expected favorites: The two 2011 runner-ups, Romain Thievin (France) and Ander Vilarino (Spain) are obviously the expected favorites for the 2012 title. Thieven, who will race for Still Racing, scored in 2011 seven top fives and nine top 10s. Vilarino, the leading driver of TFT, team from Nogaro, scored two victories, two pole positions, six top fives and seven top 10s.
Two female drivers on the grid: French Carole Perrin (Autosport 42, France) and the Belgian Nathalie Maillet (Racing Club Partners-GR3) will bring a woman’s presence to the grid. Perrin, 25, already won the 2011 ELITE Sprint in Motorland-Aragon (Spain).
Welcome to Harry Vaulkhard: 2007 Champion of the Seat Cupra Championship Great Britain, the British Harry Vaulkhard raced the BTCC for 2 seasons before joining the WTCC in 2010 on a Chevrolet Lacetti. The landmark of his carreer in this championship is his victory in the Independent Trophy in Monza. He will cross on the EURO-RACECAR NASCAR Touring Series tracks his compatriots Nigel Greensall, multiple winner in prototype series and James Winslow, winner of the Australian F3 championship, A1 GP driver for the team UK and in Indy-light but who will start his season in Brands Hatch because of his presence in Australie this week-end.
The organisation strengthen: To fill out the official staff, EURO-RACECAR NASCAR Touring Series and its coordinator Yves Guillou entrust the race direction to Patrice Ménochet. Jean-Marie Krempf will become one of the Stewards while Michel Brun will once again assure the scruiteenering.
What: Nogaro 200
Where: Nogaro (Gers, France), Circuit Paul Armagnac
When: April 6-9
TV diffusions: MOTORS TV
TV SCHEDULE (all times GMT+1)
-ELITE Sprint, Sunday, 4:35pm (40 minutes)
-ELITE/OPEN Endurance, Monday, 7pm (70 minutes)
-Highlights: Friday the 13th of April 7:45pm (72 minutes)
Circuit: road course of 3,636 kilometers (2,259 miles) 2011
Pole Positions: Eric Hélary (Elite) and Vincent Gonneau (Open) 2011
Winners: Lucas Lasserre (Elite Sprint and Endurance), Romain Fournillier (Open Sprint) and Emmanuel Brigand (Open Endurance)
From left, Eric Hélary, Lucas Lasserre and Romain Thievin celebrate on the podium at Nogaro last year.
-Practice 1 11:05-11:50am (April 6), Practice 2 2:55-3:40pm (April 6)
-Elite qualifying 1 11:00-11:15am (April 7), Open qualifying 2 3:15-3:30pm (April 7)
-Elite Sprint 9:40-10:05am (April 8)
-Endurance 11:05am-12:05pm (April 9), Open Sprint 4:20-4:45pm (April 9)
The race: Since the beginning of RACECAR Series in 2009, the championship always started in Nogaro. It is the 4th edition but the first one of the NOGARO 200.
The format: There will be 25 cars on the both grids ELITE and OPEN. Drivers of both categories will share cars during the private practices and then will each qualify. 1 ELITE Sprint, 1 ELITE/OPEN Endurance and 1 OPEN Sprint will follow.
The place: The circuit Paul Armagnac is made of 14 turns for a total length of 3,636 km (2,259 miles). Located near an aerodrome, this is the first permanent French track, opened on the 3rd of October 1960. The Coupes de Pâques are traditionally the launching event of the season.
Victories: Sylvain Noel (Sprint OPEN 2009), Mike Parisy (Sprint ELITE 2010), Eric Helary (Endurance ELITE 2010), Romain Fournillier (Sprint OPEN 2010 and 2011), Jerome Laurin (Endurance OPEN 2010), Lucas Lasserre (Sprint 2009 and 2011 and Endurance ELITE 2011) and Emmanuel Brigand (Endurance OPEN 2011).
Pole positions: Sylvain Noel (ELITE et OPEN 2009), Mike Parisy (Sprint ELITE 2010), Bruno Cosin (Endurance 2010), Eric Helary (ELITE 2011) et Romain Fournillier (OPEN 2010 and 2011)
Next stage: Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) The EURO-RACECAR NASCAR Touring Series’ second event will happen in Brands Hatch, near London (U.K.). Entrants will use the “short” track of 1,929 km (1,198 miles) supporting a DTM event. Last year Eric Helary (Helary Racing Team) won the 2 ELITE races when Vincent Gonneau (Gonneau Racing) and Emmanuel Brigand (Helary Racing Team) shared the OPEN victories.