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Three podium finishes are accompanied by various crash damages
On the 12th and 13th September 2020, Marko Stipp Motorsport finally entered the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) season, which had been postponed since April due to the corona pandemic. At the Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy, three new pilots started for the German team with the #46 and #48 cars: Yevgen Sokolovskiy, Gasper Dernovsek and Kris Richard.
Despite a good and smooth preparation for the season, the start of the weekend did not go according to plan. Sudden, material-related engine problems caused a much shorter training time and overtime for the mechanics of Kris Richard’s #48 right from the outset. Further work for the mechanics was not long in coming when Gasper Dernovsek crashed violently into the tyre stacks inside the #46 in the first EuroNASCAR 2 race. The Slovenian had previously picked up a piece of debris from another car, which led to brake failure.
Dernovsek got away with an injury on his arm, but was bitterly disappointed about the retirement: “In the race everything looked great at first. I had already fought my way up from 15th place on the grid to seventh place and we had a good pace. But then suddenly the brake pedal fell down and I crashed right into the barrier! Luckily this happened at the slowest part of the track. We found out later that a piece of debris had cut the rear brake line. Unfortunately the car was too badly damaged to take part in the second race a few hours later.”
Kris Richard had more fortunes at the wheel of #48 in the first EuroNASCAR 2 race and finished his debut race in a fantastic sixth place, which also earned him third place and a podium in the Rookie Trophy. In the second race, the Swiss also fought for a top 6 result, but was then knocked out by a rival shortly before the end of the race. Richard was accordingly disappointed with the move:
“The collision and the damage in the second race were really annoying, it certainly didn’t need to happen. Apart from that I enjoyed the new experience very much, the series is definitely very attractive. The cars are really extremely fun to drive. Without the problems in practice we would certainly have had even more potential. Hats off to the team and the mechanics who worked tirelessly and were always there for me.”
On Sunday, it was finally the turn of the EuroNASCAR Pro drivers and thus Yevgen Sokolovskiy ahead of his debut with the #46 car. However, due to the severe damage to the car from the previous day, the decision was made to send Sokolovskiy into the race with the #48 car, which had suffered less damage the day before. Thanks to his consistent performance in his first NWES races, the Ukrainian took third and second place in the Challenger Trophy straight away, and thus celebrated two podiums.
The former motorbike rider was accordingly satisfied: “It was fun to finish on the podium twice in the Challenger Trophy. In the race I was struggling a bit with lack of engine power due to overheating. Apart from that, I certainly want to improve continuously and get to know the car better. The team did a great job preparing the 48 for me overnight after the 46 was heavily damaged on Saturday.”
After a busy weekend on the outskirts of Rome, team boss Marko Stipp expressed his fighting spirit: “This was certainly not the start to the season we had hoped for. Our mechanics worked almost around the clock due to material faults and crashes, while being heavily decimated due to the corona regulations and at over 30 degrees. I am proud of what our guys have accomplished here. After all the bad luck we’ve had, I’m of course glad that, thanks to our drivers, we still have three podium finishes in the Rookie and Challenger Trophy to our credit in the end.”
The second race weekend of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, with rounds three and four of the EuroNASCAR Pro and EuroNASCAR 2 championship, will take place on 3rd and 4th October at Circuit Zolder in Belgium.