A second generation race car driver is the new EuroNASCAR 2 Champion: Liam Hezemans rounded out his 2022 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season with a perfect streak of four consecutive race wins to become the second member of the Hezemans family to win a European NASCAR championship. The Hendriks Motorsport driver sped to victory at Automotodrom Grobnik to overtake Alberto Naska in the overall standings in the very last race of the EuroNASCAR 2 season. The 19-year-old also took the victory in the Rookie Trophy.
With a perfect sweep in the regular season finale at Circuit Zolder, Hezemans was only 13 points behind Naska when NWES headed to Croatia. With his win on Saturday, he closed the gap on the Italian to three points and put himself in control of his own destiny. A win on Sunday would secure him the title. Hezemans beat Vladimiros Tziortzis at the start on Sunday to take the lead and placed the Cypriot between himself and Naska in third.
It wasn’t an easy journey for the driver of the #50 Toyota Camry as Tziortzis was on his back bumper all 14 laps. The two even made contact when the Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver tried to pass the youngster in turn 15 on lap 1 and 2. Hezemans survived a restart after a crash by Miguel Gomes on the start-finish straight and afterwards defended his position for the remainder of the race. He crossed the finish line first to become the 2022 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion and celebrated his victory with spectacular donuts in front of the fans in pure NASCAR style.
This might be the beginning of a dynasty in EuroNASCAR as Hezemans is the second member of the Dutch family to grab a title in the official European NASCAR series. Loris Hezemans is a two-time EuroNASCAR PRO Champion and current NASCAR Cup Series driver for Team Hezeberg. His father Toine Hezemans, who celebrated the championship win with his son in Victory Lane, is a famous endurance race legend and even Liam’s and Loris’ brother Mike Hezemans is involved in racing. Liam Hezemans for sure has the right DNA to leave a mark in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
“I cannot believe it! I made my first race car start ever in Valencia in the beginning of the season, coming from go-kart and immediately winning the championship! There were so many close battles all the time, we made progress every week, I cannot describe it with words! It’s just an awesome weekend and we couldn’t hope for more!” said a jubilant Liam Hezemans after securing the title.
“That was such a hectic race, I saw that Tziortzis was so fast with the number 5 car so I knew we had to get a great start. He tried to pass me at the hairpin and I had to defend all the time, congrats to him as well! That has been such a championship battle, it was just awesome all the way from the beginning to the end! I had to defend all the time, but it worked out and I’m incredibly happy!” further added the champion on his journey to the title, one that gave the Hendriks Motorsport team from the Netherlands their third consecutive championship win in EuroNASCAR 2.
Tziortzis had the third place in the overall standings in mind and always got updates about his closest rival in the battle for third, Martin Doubek. The Cypriot tried everything to overtake Hezemans and even bumped the #50 Toyota Camry two times, but the Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver found no way past the Dutchman. By finishing second, Tziortzis secured third place overall and he certainly kept the championship battle between Hezemans and Naska intense as well as fair.
It was a disappointing weekend for Naska at Automotodrom Grobnik. The setup of the #88 CAAL Racing Chevrolet didn’t fit perfectly for the NASCAR rookie and therefore he had no bullets in his weapon to attack Hezemans up front. The Italian gave his best to defend his championship lead but third place in the final race of the season wasn’t enough to win the title. The 2022 EuroNASCAR 2 and Rookie Trophy runner-up was still one of the most surprising drivers and showed a lot of potential. Naska’s time in EuroNASCAR will come for sure and the 32-year-old is already looking to strike back in the 2023 season.
“I mean, we were unlucky this year! I did my best this weekend, but this wasn’t our track in my opinion. I wasn’t fast enough and Hezemans was faster than everybody so he deserves it this weekend but in the end, when you didn’t make any mistake and you lost the championship, it’s tough. I was unlucky this season but the level was so high that the small details decided the outcome. I don’t know what to say, we’ll try again next year!” said Naska after the race.
Melvin de Groot finished in a solid fourth position and therefore secured the overall win in the Legend Trophy classification for drivers aged 40 and more. The Team Bleekemolen driver from the Netherlands had a strong season with a total of seven Legend Trophy wins in 2022. De Groot became the ninth different Legend Trophy champion in history. 2021 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Martin Doubek rounded out the top-5 to end the season with the fourth place in the overall standings.
Tuomas Pontinen stormed to third in the Rookie Trophy with another podium finish in the special classification in sixth overall. The Finn driving for Team Bleekemolen bested Ulysse Delsaux, Christian Malcharek, Paolo Valeri and Kasparas Vingilis, who completed the top-10. Luli Del Castello is the 2022 Lady Trophy Champion. The Italian ended up second in the Lady Trophy classification in the final race of the season behind Alina Loibnegger, but eleventh place for the Austrian wasn’t enough to push Del Castello off the throne. Arianna Casoli rounded out the top-3 in the Lady Trophy.
EURONASCAR PRO RESULTS | EURONASCAR 2 RESULTS