Liam Hezemans on his way to his first EuroNASCAR Pro victory.
Text: Willem J. Staat
Photo NASCAR Whelen/PR/Bart Dehaese
Liam Hezemans wins the opening match in Valencia. Speedhouse team leader Lasser championship boss
The line between ambition and success is paper thin. Liam Hezemans experienced last weekend at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. The reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion started the season in the EuroNASCAR Pro division with a win. The Dutchman was no threat to the lead in the 18-lap race to the black and white checkered line. For Liam, it marked his fifth consecutive NASCAR Whelen victory since the end of October 2022. For the Hendriks Motorsport team even thirteenth in the top European division of NASCAR.
Right at the start, the Hendriks Motorsport driver hit Cypriot pole-sitter Vladimiros Tziortzis, who in turn came under pressure from Gianmarco Ercoli, allowing Liam to break away from his pursuers. In EuroNASCAR Pro, Liam immediately scored a convincing victory. Liam Hezemans: “Just amazing. Last year I started racing in the EuroNASCAR 2 series and won the championship and now I am also the winner of EuroNASCAR Pro. The car was amazing and it was a challenging race with a tough duel and the highest temperatures. It leaves me speechless. “Vladimiros Tziortzis was held back by Gianmarco Ercoli’s CAAL Chevrolet immediately after the start. It wasn’t until the 17th lap that the driver of The Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport EuroNASCAR FJ20 managed to beat his rival.
A very happy Liam after his first NASCAR Pro win.
Both Bleekemolen cars of Vittorio Ghirelli and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen were placed in fourth and fifth groups. Former EuroNASCAR champion and Speedhouse team owner Lucas Lassere really bounced back this weekend, starting Saturday and finishing sixth. Behind him, PK Carsport team owner Anthony Kumpen also made a full-time return to the sport after several years away. The top position was launched by Marc Goossens (CAAL Racing Chevrolet) and Frederic Gabillon (RDV Ford Mustang)
Liam Hezemans takes the lead after the restart in race 2
A restart would cost Liam the match. Ercoli was leading at the time but the Dutchman was too eager and arrived at the restart a bit earlier than his rival. Due to this fault, both were forced to switch positions again, relegating the Hendriks Motorsport driver to P2. After that, Liam immediately attacked Ercoli again and in an attempt to take the lead, they both collided. The reigning EuroNASCAR 2 champion was then tagged in the gravel trap as Ercoli had to go for a tire change. Liam was not only given a time penalty, but also three warning points for his driving behaviour.
In any case, Team Bleekemolen does not miss a beat in EuroNASCAR Pro. Cars are beautiful.
In any case, the Italian was not happy. “I race in the professional category with kids. Kids are fast but they don’t have a strategy. The racing was fine. His car was just fast. But I didn’t really understand his attempt to get that time. Kids drive on PC all day but not in real life. On the track you use your mind because on the song you just have to be respectful.” said the angry Italian.
A smiling third was Speedhouse French team owner Lucas Lassere who basically had no intention of driving this season. After the restart on lap 17, the Frenchman took the lead from Vladimiros Tziortzis at the first corner to take a surprise win but also unexpectedly take the lead in the championship. The second position has been temporarily taken by Anthony Kumpen.
Hendriks Motorsport driver Martin Doubek was next at 0.693 s. second after starting thirteen. Belgian Marc Goossens fought several battles in the Top 5 almost all day and his efforts were rewarded with P3.
Team boss Lassere was surprised by the victory and had to contact his engineer by phone.
Two-time EuroNASCAR Pro champion Anthony Kumpen even climbed outside the Top 10 for a while, but eventually crossed the finish line in fourth place. Frenchman Frederic Gabillon and Ulyssee Delsaux followed, who won the Junior Classification for the Speedhouse team. Despite the necessary problems with his car, the Swiss Giorgio Maggi still managed to cross the finish line in seventh place.
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen finished the first race in fifth place, but describes Valencia as an eventful weekend. ”Everything was good and we were very good. That’s why it was so frustrating that we got stuck at first. In the first game we finished fourth and fifth. I was behind my partner and didn’t take any chance to pass him. Podium can be very good. In the second race I retired due to gas problems and a leaking radiator. The potential was there, but unfortunately it didn’t happen yet. Of course it is very positive that we are doing so well. Good luck just isn’t on our side yet. That’s why we’re really looking forward to the rest of the season.’
Michael Bleekmolen’s speed is still good. Now for the results of the match.
Euro NASCAR 2
Both EuroNASCAR2 matches resulted in victories for Cypriot Vladimiros Tziortzis. In the first match, Martin Doubek and Patrick Schober gave an amazing fight. One of the funnest to ever enter the EuroNASCAR 2 history books. Hendriks Motorsport driver Gil Linster finished fourth in both races in his Toyota Camry.
In EuroNASCAR 2, Michael Bleekemolen had a good qualifying with the ninth fastest time. Because of the events on the track, he was unable to convert that into a positive result. “After two bad crashes, I’m happy to be racing again. In a field of 30 cars, finishing ninth in qualifying is certainly not bad. In race 2 I went from P18 to P11 at the start, but I ended up in a corner later. . My rear bumper was off and the car was no longer easy to drive. The potential was there, but it wasn’t easy. The other team drivers were always ahead, but eventually they also had obstacles.”