Speedhouse dancing in the heat:
Speedhouse dancing in the heat: Ulysse Delsaux takes the lead in the Junior TrophyLucas Lasserre underlines his title ambitions in EuroNASCAR PRO
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series headed to the Autodromo di Vallelunga near the Italian capital of Rome for the fourth time in the championship's history. A European heat wave caused air temperatures to reach 40 degrees Celsius, making the NASCAR GP Italy a real challenge for all the drivers. With temperatures of up to 70 degrees Celsius in the car, all Speedhouse Racing drivers prepared for a unique racing event under the scorching sun. While driver-owner Lucas Lasserre took home one podium and two top-5 results in EuroNASCAR PRO, Ulysse Delsaux took the lead in the Junior Trophy standings for drivers under the age of 25.
The 4.085-kilometer track, located north of Rome, has been part of the NWES schedule since 2020, and its unique character guarantees exciting racing. While the first sectors are incredibly fast and smooth, drivers will have to take on the slow and twisty parts of the final sector, including Turn 14, a banked corner left over from the oval track that was the cornerstone of the circuit. With 25,000 fans in the stands, Speedhouse Racing made the third NWES event of 2023 a party of "racing, style and good times".
Team owner Lucas Lasserre was the championship leader after the NWES season opener at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. The Frenchman pulled out all the stops to compete in the UK and try to defend the lead after his phenomenal win in Spain on Sunday. The weekend began with a small setback for the team owner and driver of the #64 Ford Mustang, as Lasserre qualified in twelfth place. The team immediately went to work to improve the car’s setup and the 45-year-old was eager to bounce back.
In Saturday’s race, Lasserre made up four positions in the 38-lap EuroNASCAR PRO Round 3 race to score another solid top-10 result for the 2023 season. Sunday’s warm-up was crucial as the team found the car’s sweet spot and made the right adjustments to allow Lasserre to attack at the front. From ninth on the grid, Lasserre worked his way up the field to take the checkered flag in fourth place. Due to Gianmarco Ercoli’s double victory, the Frenchman is now second in the overall standings, just four points behind the Italian.
« We found this little thing between the warm-up and the second race, » said Lasserre. « It was my car again, the one I’m used to. I had a good feeling and the pace in race two was just amazing. I passed eight other cars during the race as I was twelfth after the first lap. We did a really good job and scored important points for the championship. I lost a place in the championship but I’m still second and only four points behind. We’re now focusing on Vallelunga and I’m sure my Italian riders will be burning to give their best.”
Ulysse Delsaux once again took the wheel of the #14 Ford Mustang and fought for important points in the battle for the Junior Trophy standings. The Frenchman and 2018 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion had some trouble in qualifying and could only secure 14th place on the grid. Giving up is not an option for the NWES veteran, who is following in the footsteps of his idols Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart and Ayrton Senna, who all left their mark on the Brands Hatch Circuit. The 25-year-old made up two positions in the first race to finish twelfth and fourth in the Junior Trophy standings.
In Round 4, Delsaux started from 13th and showed a strong pace aboard his Ford Mustang. The Frenchman made up three positions to finish in the top-10 and take third place in the Junior Trophy standings. The Troyes-born driver is now tied for eighth place in the overall standings with Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. He is also second in the Junior Trophy standings for drivers aged 25 and under, just behind Giorgio Maggi.
« Brands Hatch is the best festival on the European NASCAR calendar and the track feels like a semi-oval because it’s really technical for us drivers, » said Delsaux. « I had a crazy second race with great battles, but the main goal was to finish the race and take home important points for the championship. I was happy with my pace and enjoyed fighting for positions with my team boss Lucas, Fred Gabillon and Marc Goossens. I would like to thank Lucas for helping me with my progress. Now I’m looking forward to returning to Vallelunga.”
After taking the unusual step from Club Challenge to EuroNASCAR PRO, Neo Lambert took another step in the right direction in his rookie NWES season. Driving the #40 Ford Mustang, the Frenchman qualified 15th right behind his teammate Delsaux and showed a promising pace. In the first race, he stayed to the right of his Speedhouse teammate’s rear bumper and brought home a strong 13th place finish. His best lap of the race earned him a 14th starting position in the second race.
Once again, the Speedhouse drivers worked well together, but this time it was Lambert who crossed the finish line ahead of Delsaux. With a strong ninth-place finish, the promising talent scored his first top-10 finish in EuroNASCAR’s premier championship. He also joined Vladimiros Tziortzis and Ulysse Delsaux on the Junior Trophy podium as the runner-up in the special EuroNASCAR PRO youth classification. Lambert will look to keep the momentum going as he now sits in 15th place in the overall standings.
« What a blast it was to drive around the Brands Hatch Circuit, » said Lambert. « I had a great feeling in the car and some great battles on the track. It was crazy to see so many fans in the UK and chat to them during the phenomenal grid walks. After the second race I spent an hour with French students who were visiting us. I was happy with the results of the weekend and I made another step forward to catch up with the top-10. The pace was encouraging and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.”
Arianna Casoli from Reggio Emilia was one of the few drivers not struggling with the heat. The Italian is used to high temperatures, and thanks to her high level of fitness, she can handle any challenge that comes her way. The Lady Trophy leader spent Friday’s free practice working on the car’s setup and finding the sweep spot for the #14 Ford Mustang. After being in the mix in qualifying for a top-20 starting position, Casoli was eager to challenge for top-15 positions in both races. In the EuroNASCAR 2 Round 5 race, the Italian battled with her Speedhouse teammate Eric Quintal for positions and made good progress over the 15 laps. She finished 16th after « a real challenge from a physical point of view ». She trained in « similar conditions » before the race weekend, but burned her foot on the hot pedals in the car.
Round 6 on Sunday was « pure chaos from the start » for the NWES veteran. The three-time Lady Trophy champion had to « avoid the crashes » and just try to survive the race. She finished 16th again and brought the #14 Ford Mustang back to the pits in one piece. « I am very proud of my performance and hope for a better race at the Autodrom Most. The Vallelunga event was a fantastic show from Thursday onwards. The parade in Campagnano di Roma was a great show for the fans. To have so many spectators at the track and to be able to meet groups of children even in the paddock is the result of a great job done by EuroNASCAR and the Vallelunga staff in preparing the event.”
Igor Sicuro had a lot of bad luck at his home race in Italy. The Italian calls it « not the weekend I dreamed of for my home race”. Technical issues with his #40 Ford Mustang forced him into the pits early in the first race on Saturday, « The team did an amazing job of repairing the car just in time to complete the last two laps of the race, allowing me to start Sunday’s race from 15th place, » he said. « Unfortunately, the second race only lasted three turns. I was involved in a big accident that I couldn’t avoid. I had to retire with serious damage and unfortunately this prevented Neo from competing in his second EuroNASCAR PRO race. I’m really sorry for him. I had the potential to finish in the top-10 and fight for the Rookie Trophy. Italy was the last race of the year for me, so I’m pretty disappointed with the outcome.”
Eric Quintal was back in action after missing out at Brands Hatch. The Frenchman scored two top 20 results at Valencia and started the season on a high. The Legend Trophy driver – the special class for drivers over 40 years of age – even bettered his results from Spain with a 17th place on Saturday and a 15th place on Sunday. Quintal, a true NWES veteran, had amazing battles with his teammate Casoli and was able to avoid several incidents on the track. With all of his experience and mental motivation, Quintal rounded out a strong weekend for him and his Speedhouse team.
Florian Richard and Alain Mosqueron were tied in points after two exciting Club Challenge sessions on Friday. So the tie-breaker decided who would get the third podium spot. In the end it was Richard thanks to a better individual result in the second session. He finished second, relegating his team-mate to fourth place. « It was a pleasure to race at this beautiful track, » said Richard. « The support of the team helped me a lot to get my first podium in EuroNASCAR’s Club Challenge. The atmosphere in the team is just great.” Mosqueron added: « I had gearbox problems in the first session and it was my first time on this track. I missed track time so it wasn’t easy for me. In the end I finished fourth and defended my third place in the championship. Everything is still up for grabs and we’re looking forward to bouncing back.
The 2023 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season continues August 26-27 at Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic. Speedhouse Racing is looking forward to another amazing event for the whole family and thrilling racing once again as the championship heads to Central Europe. Qualifying and all races will be streamed live on the EuroNASCAR YouTube channel. Follow Speedhouses social media profiles to get the latest updates on all the drivers and news. Enjoy the « racing, style and good times » with Speedhouse from France!
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