BARGNANA, Italy – Alon Day proved to be the man to beat Saturday at Autodromo di Franciacorta.
The Israeli led all 29 laps of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ELITE 1 race and grabbed his fourth win at the Italian track after perfectly handling two restarts.
The CAAL Racing driver was under heavy pressure from Marc Goossens, who ended up second in his Braxx Racing Ford Mustang, and Jacques Villeneuve.
“It’s such a wonderful feeling to win again,” said Day. “It was tough for me and the team in Valencia. It wasn’t easy as Marc was there the whole time. I saw him and Jacques in my mirrors all the time. It was an honour to stand on the podium with a Formula One champion. We want to build on this win today and do it again tomorrow.”
Villeneuve was third and clinched his first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series podium. The Canadian showed a strong pace throughout the race and will start fourth in the Sunday’s ELITE 1 race.
“It was a physical race on that short track and it was fun,” said Villeneuve. “The fastest lap is important for the grid for the second race. Unfortunately we were faster in the end of the race when the tires weren’t fresh anymore. I was trying to get closer to Marc in case he made a mistake.”
Drama struck early in the first lap of the race. Mauro Trione flipped in the second corner after a contact with Alex Caffi. The No. 31 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS came to rest upside down, resulting in a caution period. All drivers involved were OK after the accident.
“I had a good start and gained some positions,” said Trione. “Alex Caffi was hit hard in the back and then he spun. I was not able to avoid him and then I got pushed from behind. I rolled in a very soft way, so the car is not damaged that bad.”
After the caution, championship leader Ander Vilarino ended up spinning after a contact with another competitor. The Spaniard restarted 12th, but had to retire on lap 24 of 29 due to the damage sustained.
“I was hit by a competitor on my left rear and suffered some damage,” explained Vilarino. “I got my starting position back during the caution. I was able to gain some spots, but unfortunately the car was unable to continue and I had to retire before the end of the race.”
Loris Hezemans ended up fourth after an intense battle with Nicolo Rocca. Luigi Ferrara rounded out the top-five. Hezemans also grabbed the Junior Trophy win.
Henri Tuomaala won the Challenger Trophy by finishing 12th.