The 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season, beginning next weekend in Valencia, Spain with the Valencia NASCAR Fest, promises to be one for the ages. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series grew into one of the best touring car championships in Europe and the competition has reached an impressive level across both division.
An extraordinary lineup in the ELITE 1, with a spectacular mix of NWES stars, world-class drivers coming in and young talents coming up ranks pairs with a new wave of promising drivers entering the ELITE 2 division and the brand new ELITE Club Division to deliver fans all over Europe the best racing and the most entertaining american-themed events.
The new Toyota Camry body will make its debut in 2017, joining Chevrolet and Ford among the NWES manufacturers. 28 cars are listed as full-season entries and 14 different countries will be represented on the grid, including the first ever drivers coming from Venezuela, Poland, Luxembourg and Japan to debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
The season is just beginning though and more cars and drivers are expected to join from the second event of the season in Brands Hatch in June. Start your engines, race fans!
ELITE 1 - Top class drivers from all over the world
The ELITE 1 division starting grid never looked so full of talent and ambitions, beginning with 2016 Champion Anthony Kumpen, who is back from a great Xfinity Series race in Daytona with the only goal to conquer a third European crown. He will have a stronger-than-ever group of opponents, starting from his PK Carsport teammate Stienes Longin, the reigning ELITE 2 Champion moving up the ladder with strong ambitions.
In the RDV Competition camp, two-time Championship runner-up Frederic Gabillon launch another assault to the title, while Marconi De Abreu will return to climb more steps in the NWES rankings. CAAL Racing will field once again three Chevrolets for NASCAR Next driver and two-time Junior Trophy winner Alon Day, veteran Freddy Nordstrom and Salvador Tineo Arroyo, as the Spanish talent moves up from the ELITE 2 ranks.
Knauf Racing confirmed his young up-and-coming lineup formed by Thomas Ferrando, who will enter both division, and 2009 champion Wilfried Boucenna, while Racers Motorsport, the team born from merge of Double T and Vict Motorsport, will field three Ford Mustangs for rising star Gianmarco Ercoli, 2016 Challenger Trophy winner Dario Caso and newcomer Alessandro Ciompi. Alex Caffi Motorsport will aim straight at the top of the standings with a formidable duo: perennial title contender Borja Garcia and Venezuelan former GP2, F1 and Indycar driver Rodrigo Gonzalez.
After giving Braxx Racing its first ever NASCAR podium, endurance star Marc Goossens will be back to the European NASCAR, while Jerry De Weerdt will drive the #78 Mustang in the Challenger Trophy. GT legend Christophe Bouchut is also returning at the wheel of the #66 Chevrolet for DF1 Racing and Scuderia Giudici will field the #4 Ford Mustang for Claudio Giudice. After making his NWES debut last season, Peter Gross will return with Renauer Motorsport #5 Ford Mustang, while Eric De Doncker and his Motorsport 98 team will take the track in both divisions with the Challenger Trophy in mind, as will Willy Gruber with his Gruber Racing team.
Two new teams will make their debut in Valencia fielding two cars each. Wiesbaden, Germany based Mishumotors will field two cars, including the 50th NWES car produced by Team FJ, one of which will be shared between Patrick Simon and Renger Van Der Zande. 2010 Champion Lucas Lasserre will return to NWES with French team Dog Racing, which will also field a Ford Mustang for Miguel Angel Dasi Perez.
Two more new Italian teams will join the field with one car each: MRT by Nocentini and The Club Motorsport.
ELITE 2 - One clear favorite, many contenders and new wave of talents
With many of the recent contenders moving up the ranks, the ELITE 2 division title will be up for grabs for a new wave of NWES talents but they will have to deal with Thomas Ferrando. The Frenchman will be the clear favorite as the only past race winner – he has a total of five ELITE 2 wins in his palmares – to enter the division full time for Knauf Racing, which will also field a Mustang for Paul Guiod’s sophomore campaign.
After grabbing his first podium finish and closing the last season eighth in points, Renauer Motorsport’s Martin Doubek is poised to make the final step towards his maiden win, as is Ulysse Delsaux, who will lead the RDV Competition team with Marconi Abreu. Tenth in points in 2016, Justin Kunz will be targeting wins at the wheel of the #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS, with promising rookie Guillaume Dumarey driving the other Belgian Chevy. Polish newcomer Maciej Dreszer will be one to watch in the Rookie Cup at the wheel of the #66 DF1 Racing Chevrolet SS.
CAAL Racing will line up two rookies – Gil Linster, the first NWES driver coming from Luxembourg and Felipe Rabello – and 2016 Lady Cup winner Arianna Casoli. She will have her main opponent on the road to defending her title in Carmen Boix Gil, driving for Alex Caffi Motorsport. The Monegasque team will also field Japanese rookie Kenko Miura on the #2 Toyota Camry. Straight from karting will come Dog Racing’s Evan Pichard Arnaud, who will be flanked by Brazilian veteran William Ayer Jr.
Jerry De Weerdt will defend his Legend Trophy title with his #78 Braxx Racing Ford Mustang while the #70 Mishumotors Chevrolet SS will be driven by Mirco Schultis and Dario Caso will pilot the #8 Racers Motorsport Mustang, with Simone Laureti as his teammate on the #7 Mustang. Eric De Doncker will also be in the mix with the Motorsport 98 Ford Mustang, as will be Willy Gruber on the #26 Gruber Racing Chevrolet SS. Andrea Perlini will also compete in the Legend Trophy for Scuderia Giudici, while Roberto Benedetti will return to NWES with The Club Motorsport.
ELITE Club - Seven new drivers enter the NASCAR world
Eight drivers will enter the brand new ELITE Club Division, based on regularity, seven of which making their NASCAR debut. Luciano Carcheri from Italy and Alfredo Cardoso from Brazil will drive the Alex Caffi Motorsport cars, Austrian Andreas Kuchelbacher will pilot the #5 Renauer Motorsport, while Swiss Yann Schar will be at the wheel of the #31 Mustang for RDV Compétition. Marcelo Silva from Brazil and Eric Muet from France will represent Dog Racing, Austrian Driver / Team Owner Willy Gruber will enter his #26 Chevrolet SS in all three divisions while another Brazilian, Deo Alves, will drive the #66 DF1 Racing Chevy.