NWES • October 03, 2014
Finals to be decisive once again to determine the European NASCAR Champion
Daytona Beach, Florida - The 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will come down to the Le Mans Finals on October 11-12 to decide who will wear the Euro NASCAR Champion’s Ring and who will bring home the other championships and trophies awarded by the European NASCAR Series.
â€‹â€‹Five-way battle to the finish line in ELITE 1
With at least five drivers still in contention and three more still mathematically capable of winning the title in the ELITE 1 division, the Bugatti Circuit will see the final showdown between Ander Vilarino (#2 TFT-Banco Santander Chevrolet SS), Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS), Borja Garcia (#1 Ford Autolix Competition Ford Mustang), Frederic Gabillon (#12 Still Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Eddie Cheever III (#51 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS). Vilarino enters the Finals as the clear favorite after regaining the points lead in Magione thanks to a win in the Saturday Race and a second place in the Sunday Race, but the Spaniard - who can count on 17 wins in 34 NWES races, four of which came this season - never climbed the top step of the podium in Le Mans since the Series became an official NASCAR championship. He never had to go on the attack, but this year, with just 11 points separating him from second-place Kumpen, he will definitely want to stay in front.
For the other four contenders, there is only one way to dethrone the two-time champion: by winning. With double point awarded in the playoffs, the difference between winning and coming home second can sum up to 12 points, which means that everything is still on the line. Kumpen is still looking for his first win of the season and never raced at the Circuit Bugatti, but was the most consistent driver all season long and with his team is leading the Teams Championship, while Garcia showed an extremely fast pace in his debut on the French track in 2013. Gabillon, for his part, won both races in Le Mans last year - losing the title to Vilarino by just 4 points - and will look for a different ending this time.
Eddie Cheever kept his word by winning the Sunday Race on his home track in Magione in a nail-biting duel with Vilarino and dedicating his triumph to his mother in the day of her birthday. The Italian - sitting 38 points behind the TFT driver - will face a 5-positions penalty on the grid in Le Mans for a contact with Vilarino in the Semi Finals and therefore must win in France and hope for some mistakes by his rivals to win the title in his first season in NASCAR, but with the spaniard is the only multiple winner of the season. Bert Longin (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS), Freddy NordstroÌˆm (#44 Still Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Mathias Lauda (#66 DF-1 Racing by B66 Chevrolet SS) are more than 70 points back but with 96 point on the line, their hopes are still alive.
Three Rookies in contention in the ELITE 2 division
Three drivers are still in contention for the ELITE 2 Championship and all of them are Rookies, demonstrating the high level of the 2014 debutants. After two eventful Semi Finals at the Autodromo dell’Umbria di Magione, Maxime Dumarey (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS), Thomas Ferrando (#22 Overdrive Chevrolet Camaro) and Philipp Lietz (#86 TB Renauer Motorsport Ford Mustang) are separated by just 15 points going into the Finals.
Dumarey saw a dominant double win go out in smoke late in the Sunday Race due to a contact with Gianmarco Ercoli (#25 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) that gifted Lietz with his maiden NASCAR win in typical NASCAR fashion, but the Belgian grabbed the points lead anyway and will enter the Finals 12 points ahead of Ferrando, determined to win the championship in his rookie season. Ferrando will not go down easily: the Frenchman had a troubled weekend in Italy, but will look to get back to his Nurburgring form for the final showdown and of course Austrian Philipp Lietz cannot be counted out. The 25-year-old from Waidhofen an der Ybbs learned his way to Victory Lane in Magione and looks poised to go for it again on October 11-12 at the Circuit Bugatti.
Still hoping for a major upset are Simone Laureti (#51 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS), Marcal Melo (#82 Brazil Team Chevrolet SS), Denis Dupont (#32 RCP - Marc VDS Toyota Camry) - The 2-time-winner Belgian was persecuted by bad luck in the Semi Finals - and Leonard Vernet (#7 TFT-Red Line Chevrolet SS), all inside the 96 points gap.
ELITE 1 Trophies: Cheever and Armetta enter Le Mans as leaders
Cheever is the main candidate to win the Jerome Sarran Trophy - rewarding drivers aged 25 or less - and will mainly face the opposition of Nordstrom, who has to close a 34-points gap from the Italian. 2013 ELITE 2 Champion Anthony Gandon (#7 TFT-Red Line Chevrolet SS) is third, but with a 72 points disadvantage that looks unsurmountable.
The Challenger Trophy seems to be a matter between Fabrizio Armetta (#31 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) and Guillaume Rousseau (#13 Bull Racing Team Ford Mustang). The two drivers are separated by just 10 points entering the Finals and neither can afford an error on the 4,143 Km of the Circuit Bugatti. Dominic Tiroch (#86 TB Renauer Motorsport Ford Mustang) is 43 points back and will need some help from Lady Luck to overtake both rivals.
ELITE 2 Trophies: Tight duel between Laureti and Melo, Vernet can celebrate
Leonard Vernet is the only trophy candidate that will celebrate early in Le Mans, because his lead in the Legend Trophy classification cannot be overcome.
Simone Laureti and Marcal Melo are involved in a tight battle for the Gentleman Trophy classification. The Italian gained some ground in his home race but the difference between the two is still just 13 points. Eric Quintal (#2 TFT-Banco Santander Chevrolet SS) sits 44 points back from the lead.
Cups: Rookies and Ladies rewarded
The Rookie Cup - one of the two Cups introduced this year by the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series - will very likely go to the ELITE 2 Champion in a season highlighted by lots of young talents emerging, while the other one, the Lady Cup, is still midway between Italy and Luxembourg. Erika Monforte (#88 Euro Kart Racing Team Chevrolet Camaro) leads by 22 points on Nathalie Maillet (#46 RCP - Marc VDS Toyota Camry) and, like most of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Championships and Trophies, everything is still on the line.
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