As the reigning champion of the V8 Thunder NEZ, Henri Tuomaala came to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Although most of the tracks had been completely new for him and his contenders had more experience with the cars and tracks, he managed to win the title in the Challenger Trophy in his first season.
After an extremely solid first half of the season, Tuomaala clearly was one of the favourites to win the Challenger-Trophy in the Elite 1 Division. With 22 points ahead of Dario Caso, he entered the playoffs. As the playoffs mean double points, everything was still possible. For the young Finn, the start of the playoffs didn’t quite go as planned. Due to performance problems of the #23, Tuomaala wasn’t able to go the pace of the rest of the field and had his worst raceweekend with P5 and P3. After the first race his lead shrank to 6 points. The second race didn’t go well for Dario Caso either. He had problems with his #8 and wasn’t able to finish the race. As a result, Kenko Miura took over the second place in the trophy and Tuomaala’s lead was back to 44 points.
Also in the Zolder the #23 was experiencing problems. Starting from P17 in the first race, Tuomaala couldn’t avoid the crash in the very first corner. His Chevrolet Camaro was massively battered. “As a result of the crash, my car was quite broken. After that, my primary goal was to somehow finish the race and bring home some points for the championship. Honestly, I didn’t expect the car to last until the checkered flag”, Tuomaala said in an interview with Threewide. For his contenders in the Challenger-Trophy the race didn’t go any better. Kenko Miura also was involved in the crash in the first corner and could only limp back to the pits, where he had to retire. Mauro Trione, who was in a good position throughout the race, had problems with his clutch and close to the end missed the last chicane. As he didn’t want to damage the car, he chose to drive through the pits and lost his good position. Dario Caso finished first in the Challenger-Trophy, but was penalized after the race with 30 seconds. In the end, it was another victory for Tuomaala.
The final race of the season was the first race in the rain this season. Tuomaala started from P20. In the beginning of the race, the track started to dry, but with 6 laps to go, heavy rain was pouring down. “My problem was, that I couldn’t see anything. There was so much water on the track, it was really challenging to drive. My goal was to simply finish the race, because we didn’t have the speed of the others. When the real rain started, it was nearly impossible to keep the car on the track”, the 30-year-old Finn said. With P16 overall he was first in the Challenger-Trophy and crowned the title with the 9th victory in 13 races.
“Of course I’m satisfied with winning the Challenger-Trophy. But with the season in general I’m not completely satisfied. Judging from how competitive we had been in the beginning, I was expecting us to be a lot faster at the end of the season. In fact, it was the other way round, it got worse to the end of the season.”
If the former champion of the V8 Thunder NEZ will defend his title in 2020 will be decided in the next couple of months. “At the moment it is 90% safe that I’ll be running in EuroNASCAR in 2020”, the Finn told Threewide.
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