VENRAY, The Netherlands – After a dominant practice session, Jacques Villeneuve and Go Fas Racing took the pole position for the ninth ELITE 1 race of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season at Raceway Venray on Sunday.
In what was his last attempt with less than two minutes to go in qualifying, the Canadian posted a 19.369-second lap around the half-mile banked short track to beat Loris Hezemans’ time by just .044 seconds.
It was the first pole position in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and the first on an oval for the former Indy 500 winner, as well as the second of his NASCAR career after the road course pole he grabbed at Montreal in 2011.
“It’s fun and exciting, I was really waiting to race on this oval,” said Villeneuve. “It’s a proper oval track with high banked corners and a length of half a mile. It was fun, the car was actually meant to be better in race trim. It was a little bit loose in qualifying trim, but it was enough for one very good lap.
“The tires seemed not to heat up too much, so I’m really looking forward to this race.”
Villeneuve and Hezemans will start side by side two months after their intense battle in the NASCAR GP Italy at Franciacorta. Racing for Hendriks Motorsport, Hezemans will rely on the experience he gained at New Smyrna in February, when he was third in the overall standings of the World Series of Asphalt.
ELITE 1 points leader Stienes Longin will be third on the grid after missing the pole position by just .066 seconds. The PK Carsport driver edged his teammate Nicolo Rocca, who comes from his first win of the season at Autodrom Most.
Hendriks Motorsport’s Martin Doubek closed the top five with a 19.571-second lap, ahead of local hero Sebastiaan Bleekemolen.
Six-time Euro Series oval winner Frederic Gabillon ended up seventh ahead of three-time NWES champion Ander Vilarino. The RDV Competition driver was .051 seconds faster than the Spaniard and his No. 48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang.
Reigning champion Alon Day secured the ninth spot on the grid. The CAAL Racing driver was .357 seconds slower than the polesitter and will have a steep mountain to climb if he wants to win the NASCAR GP Netherlands at Raceway Venray.
Day’s teammate, Thomas Ferrando, will start alongside him in 10th place.
Henri Tuomaala grabbed the best spot in the Challenger Trophy classification by finishing 16th. The Finn edged Mauro Trione and Kenko Miura.
Nineteen drivers were separated by less than nine tenths of a second in qualifying.