In his 65th NASCAR Whelen Euro Series start Frederic Gabillon (#3 Tepac RDV Compétition Toyota Camry) scored his first ever win at the legendary Brands Hatch Indy Circuit by leading the ELITE 1 Round 5 from flag to flag in what was his 10th NWES career win and the first of the season. The Frenchman held off Marc Goossens (#90 Braxx Racing Chevrolet SS) through two restarts after starting from the pole and behind the frontrunners, the battle for third was incredibly exciting.
After six cars frantically exchanged positions for the last 13 laps of the race, Loris Hezemans (#50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang) ended up third and won the Junior Trophy ahead of Francesco Sini (#12 Solaris Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro). The Italian scored his first NASCAR top-5 edging Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro) and Lucas Lasserre (#33 Mavi Mishumotors Chevrolet SS) who climbed to sixth after completing the first lap in 15th place.
"It was a tough race with Marc right behind me," said Gabillon in Victory Lane. "He was really fast and he put a lot of pressure on me. My car was quite good so I was able to keep him behind. I am so happy and my team did such a great job this weekend, it is a great reward for us and the work we put in the cars. It was a long race and because of the safety car it was hard to keep the tyres warm. We are looking forward to tomorrow now!"
"Once I was in second I thought about the bigger picture and I didn’t even want to try something, because when you start sixth on a track like Brands Hatch it’s so tough to overtake. With the safety car situations and restarts I managed to put my experience to good use and moved up. It is very tight there up front," said Goossens. "When I look at the qualifying results I have to be very pleased with this second place, Ercoli beat me on the quickest lap time on the last lap so I will not start from the pole tomorrow. At least it will be a better starting point than today’s."
Christophe Bouchut (#66 Dexwet-DF1 Racing Chevrolet Camaro) joined the battle up front at the wheel of his Camaro and ended up seventh ahead of Alex Sedgwick (#90 Braxx Racing Ford Mustang) who grabbed the second spot on the Junior Trophy podium in front of his home crowd. The young Briton lost a few spots in the battle for fourth in the second half of the race.
Reigning ELITE 2 champion Thomas Ferrando (#37 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang), who grabbed the last spot on the Junior Trophy podium, and Nicolò Rocca (#56 CAA Racing Chevrolet SS) rounded out the top-10.
NASCAR Legend Bobby Labonte (#18 YACCO RDV Compétition Toyota Camry) started 15th and fought back to twelfth under the checkered flag. Dario Caso (#8 Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang) won the fight for the Challenger Trophy by finishing 17th right in front of his competitor Kenko Miura (#2 Alex Caffi Motorsport Toyota Camry). Didier Bec (#51 RDV Compétition Ford Mustang) grabbed the third spot on the Challenger Trophy podium.
It was an unfortunate race for both for Ercoli and reigning NWES champion Alon Day (#54 CAAL Racing Toyota Camry), who were involved in the accident that led to the second caution of the race on lap 7. Both went after the pole position and Ercoli was able to post a lap that will grant him the first spot on the grid on Sunday.
The ELITE 1 will return to action on Sunday at 2:25pm CET. The ELITE 2 Round 5 will take place at 18:05pm CET on Saturday.
ELITE 1 ROUND 5 – PENALTY REPORT
- #90 – Drive Through (equivalent add 30 seconds to the elapsed time of the Elite 1 Race 1). Avoidable collision # 9 at Turn 1 after restart Safety Car
- #32 – Drive Through (equivalent add 30 seconds to the elapsed time of the Elite 1 Race 1). Avoidable collision # 77 at Turn 55
- #7 – Drive Through (equivalent add 30 seconds to the elapsed time of the Elite 1 Race 1). Avoidable collision and force another driver out the track # 11 at Turn 4