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BLOIS, France – Having ushered in a new era this year, the second half of the 2012 Euro-Racecar season will see another significant first as it stages its first oval race in Europe on July 6-8. Organized in conjunction with the FFSA, the .333-mile Tours Speedway oval that lies at the heart of the Indre-et-Loire city will provide a brand new playground for the competitors.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Euro-Racecar founder and series promoter Jérôme Galpin on the eve of the Tours event. “This project is the fruit of a meeting and subsequent discussions with Denis Schwok, director of the Parc des Expositions, which gained momentum month by month. Today the venue is taking shape with everything that we planned on paper working well in practice. We’ve not encountered a single problem and, from a personal perspective, I’m thrilled to be the first person to have driven the track!”
This inauguration took place on Tuesday (July 3), three days before the Euro-Racecar competitors get their first taste of the Tours circuit. All will be starting from scratch as they contest their first oval race run to NASCAR regulations.
On-track, the fight between the main title contenders is shaping up nicely, with the usual suspects likely to duke it out once more at the all-star meeting. Points leader since April’s season-opening Nogaro 200, Ander Vilarino (No. 2 TFT-Banco Santander) has recorded four wins and stood on the podium at all six races this season, making him the man to beat at Tours. His closest championship challenger Romain Thiévin (No. 99 Still Racing-Exotics Racing) has taken five top-five finishes but is still hunting his first win of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Javier Villa (No. 64 Gonneau Racing), who claimed victory last time out at Brands Hatch, will head the chasing pack along with Antoine Lioen ( No. 05 Rapido Racing), Dimitri Enjalbert ( No. 33 OverDrive), Freddy Nordström (No. 44 Orhès Compétition), Romain Fournillier (No. 11 OverDrive-McDonald’s), Wilfried Boucenna (No. 17 Pole Position 81), Carole Perrin (No. 42 Autosport 42) and the series’ latest winner, Romain Iannetta (No. 25 Orhès Compétition). All share a single ambition – to become the first Euro-Racecar competitor to triumph on an oval.
Tours Speedway’s status as a major event is further bolstered by the addition of three guest drivers to the grid this weekend. The trio is headed by 2011 series champion Eric Hélary (No. 14 Still Racing-JDC Finance), who will compete so as to validate his entry into a U.S.-based NASCAR race, his prize for claiming last year’s crown.
He is joined by three-time World Touring Car title-winner Yvan Muller (No. 100 Still Racing-Convergence) who will handle a Chevy Camaro while Ben Kennedy ( No. 96 TFT), great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and a regular in America’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series, completes the one-off competitors.
The Open division looks just as exciting with all of the regular front-runners set to be present. Championship leader Tanguy Ide (No. 44 Orhès Compétition) will have his work cut out keeping chief rivals Martin Van Hove (No. 96 TFT), Joaquin Gabarron (No. 05 Rapido Racing), Alain Grand (No. 11 OverDrive-McDonald’s) and Philippe Marie (No. 88 Orhès Compétition) at bay, while it would be remiss to forget the category’s finest gunslingers like Vincent Gonneau (No. 15 Gonneau Racing), David Perisset (No. 99 Still Racing-Exotics Racing), Jérôme Laurin (No. 55 Pole Position 81), Gérald Cormon (No. 25 Orhès Compétition) and Stéphane Sabates (No. 100 Still Racing-Convergence). The scene is set for a truly memorable battle.
Newcomers And Returnees: Single-seater racer Yann Zimmer (No. 18 Scorpus Racing), 2011 Open Championship runner-up Emmanuel Brigand, Eric van de Vyver (No.7 Rapido Racing), Oscar Pereira (No.06 Rapido Racing), Neil Tressler and Donald Reignoux (No.29 Autosport 42) and brothers Nicolas and Jack Gaudin (No.85 VTS 85) will all join the field for this weekend’s event.
Grand Marshals: George Silbermann, vice president of regional and touring series for NASCAR, and Stéphane Rotenberg, star presenter on French TV channel M6, will do Euro-Racecar the honor of acting as Grand Marshals at the Tours event. On Saturday Silbermann will participate in the opening ceremonies and give the start of the Michelin 100 at 7:45 p.m., while Rotenberg will perform the same role on Sunday for the Tours Event 100.
Race: Tours Speedway
Where: Tours (Indre-et-Loire, France)
Date: July 6-8, 2012
TV Broadcast: Motors TV France: Friday 13 July at 19.45 and repeated thereafter; Motors TV UK: Saturday 14 July at 17.50 and repeated thereafter; Motors TV France: Saturday 14 July at 18.15 and repeated thereafter
Circuit: Tours Speedway, .333-mile, D-shaped oval officially recognized by the FFSA.
Schedule: (GMT +1)
- Friday July 6: Elite free practice 1: 16.00 – 16.40; Open free practice 1: 16.45 – 17.25; Elite free practice 2: 19.15 – 19.55; Open free practice 2: 20.00 – 20.40.
- Saturday July 7: Elite qualifying: 10.10 – 10.50; Open qualifying: 10.55 – 11.35; Open semi-final 1: 13.15; Open semi-final 2: 14.10; Open B Final: 15.45; Open Final: 15.45; Elite Super Final: 19.45.
- Sunday July 8: Open semi-final 1: 10.15; Open semi-final 2: 11.10; Elite Super Final: 14.00; Open B Final: 16.00; Open Final: 16.55.
Anne Galpin: +33 6 76 04 11 89 / email@example.com
Format: Run to NASCAR regulations, including double-file restarts, free pass and green-white chequered finishes.
Qualifying: each driver runs for two laps with the order decided by draw. The best time will take pole position.
Elite Super Final: 24 cars contest a 100-lap race.
Open semi-final and final (50 laps): Cars that qualify in odd positions (1, 3, 5 etc.) will compete in Open semi-final 1; those in even positions (2, 4, 6 etc.) will form Open semi-final 2.
Drivers ranked from first to fifth place and the driver ranked between sixth and 12th who has recorded the best race lap will compete in the final. The other six will race in the B final.
Site: Set in the heart of the city, Tours Speedway has been created especially for this weekend’s event. Europe’s first non-permanent oval to welcome a NASCAR Series, the track is officially recognized by the French Federation (FFSA) and is surrounded by walls similar to those used on the Valencia Formula One street circuit.