Gabillon Puts On A Defensive Driving Clinic

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Frederic Gabillon leads en route to his victory in Sunday's NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ELITE 1 event at Brands Hatch. (NASCAR Photo)
Frederic Gabillon leads en route to his victory in Sunday's NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ELITE 1 event at Brands Hatch. (NASCAR Photo)

WEST KINGSDOWN, England – Frederic Gabillon made a spectacular return to victory lane Sunday at Brands Hatch thanks to a masterful drive in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series ELITE 1 competition.

The Frenchman led most of the 38 laps around the iconic 1.9-kilometer Indy Circuit in his No. 3 RDV Competition Chevy and brilliantly defended from a charging Stienes Longin.

Gabillon started from the pole but was beaten to turn two by Loris Hezemans, who was coming from second place on the grid. The Dutchman immediately took off but the safety car was deployed to recover Mauro Trione’s car from the at Paddock Hill Bend.

The restart was a game changing one. Hezemans hit the throttle too early and was forced to serve a drive through penalty, while Gabillon took back the lead and perfectly handled another restart when Jennifer Jo Cobb got trapped in the gravel at Clearways.

Gabillon put up a masterpiece of defensive driving to cross the finish line first despite the huge pressure brought by Stienes Longin, who crossed the finish line .284 of a second behind the No. 3 Chevrolet. Gabillon grabbed his 12th ELITE 1 win, the second at Brands Hatch, in what was his 78th start in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ top division.

“It was extremely difficult to handle the car,” said Gabillon. “I was a little bit lucky to set the fastest lap yesterday, but I won’t complain. It’s always good to start out front on a track like this. I’m so happy being back in the Victory Lane, but we have a lot of work to do this season. We have to learn why we don’t have the right pace at the moment.”

Longin was second again. After losing the win on Saturday by just a few tenth of a second, the PK Carsport driver was extremely strong on Sunday and despite being unable to find a space to pass Gabillon, he scored important points for the the championship. The Belgian collected his fourth second place finish this year.

“It was challenging race with a very competitive Fred out front,” said Longin. “He was defending hard and made no mistakes, so I was not able to pass him here today. I still have to wait for my first ELITE 1 Division win, but I got a lot of points for the championship, which makes me happy.”

Saturday’s race winner Alon Day was third after some intense battles for the last spot on the podium. Alexander Graff started seventh and ended up fourth, collecting his first top-five of the season. Three-time NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion Ander Vilarino rounded out the top-five.

Last year’s race winner Gianmarco Ercoli won the Junior Trophy classification by finishing seventh ahead of former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve.

Henri Tuomaala won the midfield battle for the Challenger Trophy.