Valencia, Spain - At the end of spectacular 16-lap battle at the front that involved six drivers, Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) took his third career NWES win by edging Frederic Gabillon (#3 Tepac RDV Compétition Ford Mustang) under the checkered flag in the ELITE 1 Round 1 of the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season.
“It’s amazing! It was a difficult race, it was very hot and the track was slippery. Starting the season with a pole and a win is amazing. The team did a fantastic job. I’m really happy to be here, I want to thank NASCAR and Whelen Euro Series for everything they’re doing,” said Kumpen in Victory Lane.
When the green flag waved, Borja Garcia (#1 SPV Racing Ford Mustang) jumped to an early lead from the second position on the grid, followed by the polesitter Kumpen and Gabillon. The Spaniard led the first part of the race, but Kumpen, Gabillon, Alon Day (#54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) and Nicolò Rocca (#56 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS) quickly closed the gap. On lap 8, Kumpen made his move and took the lead with a brillian overtake on Garcia, looking to gain some ground.
Behind the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Gabillon made his way past Garcia and caught Kumpen in the last lap. The Frenchman made a move for the lead few corners from the checkered flag but it didn’t work and he had to settle for second, a mere .261 seconds behind the winner. Garcia ended up third at the wheel of the #1 SPV Racing Ford Mustang.
“It took me a little bit too long to move up to second, and I could make only one move on Anthony. It was a good, fair race and it is great to finally finish the first race of the season for the first time in my NASCAR career,” said Gabillon.
Rocca closed a solid fourth, leading the Junior “Jerome Sarran” Trophy classification ahead of Gianmarco Ercoli (#9 Double-T by Nocentini Ford Mustang). The 2015 Elite 2 Champion made a great impression by starting seventh, quickly moving up to sixt and then closing the gap from the front to end up just 4 seconds behind Kumpen. With the sixth place, Day scored solid points for the season and by posting the fastest lap of the race, he granted himself the first place on the grid for Sunday’s round two.
Bert Longin (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) ended seventh ahead of Wilfried Boucenna (#73 Knauf Racing Team Ford Mustang). Marc Goossens (#90 Brass Racing Ford Mustang) finshed a strong ninth in his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series debut, while Mathias Lauda (#66 DF1 Racing Team Chevrolet SS) rounded out the top-10.
Eric de Doncker, 12th under the checkered flag, won the Challenger Trophy classification, ahead of a hard-charging Dario Caso (#8 Vict Motorsport Ford Mustang), who came from the back to the pack to finish 13th.