Last year, Liam Hezemans put the cherry on his first season in auto racing with the EuroNASCAR 2 championship. Fast forward six months and Hezemans is a race winner in the EuroNASCAR PRO division after dominating the first 18 laps of the 2023 season at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. The Dutchman took the lead at the start and never looked back in an exciting Round 1 that went green all the way to the end. With this victory – his fifth consecutive since October 2022 – Liam secured Hendriks Motorsport’s 13th win in EuroNASCAR’s top division.
The Dutchman took the lead onboard his #50 Toyota right at the start and beat polesetter Vladimiros Tziortzis in the drag race to turn 1. Afterwards, the 20-year-old had to fend off attacks from Gianmarco Ercoli, who also got past the Cypriot to move into second place. Taking advantage of the battle between Ercoli and Tziortzis, Hezemans pulled away to lead all 18 laps and take his maiden win in the premier championship in European NASCAR racing. The Dutchman now leads the championship with 40 points on his tally.
“It was just amazing, last year I started racing and won the championship and now I’m a EuroNASCAR PRO race winner,” said the younger brother of two-time EuroNASCAR PRO Champion Loris Hezemans. “The car was amazing and it was a challenging race with intense battles and high temperatures. I’m speechless, the team did an amazing job and I’m looking forward to jumping back in my Toyota Camry for tomorrow’s second EuroNASCAR PRO race.”
Liam Hezemans and his two-time EuroNASCAR champion brother Loris are now the first siblings to capture a win in the top division of NASCAR in Europe.
Tziortzis, who was relegated back to third place at the start, never let Ercoli get away and shot multiple attacks against the CAAL Racing driver. The Academy / Alex Caffi Motorsport racer made the decisive move on lap 17 and overtook Ercoli in turn 1. The Cypriot, who scored his maiden EuroNASCAR 2 race win at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in 2022, defended the second place and joined Hezemans not only on the overall podium in second but also in the Junior Trophy.
CAAL Racing’s Ercoli ended up third in his #54 Chevrolet Camaro but with posting the fastest lap time of the race, the Italian will start from pole position in EuroNASCAR PRO Round 2 on Sunday. Crucially for Ercoli, his fastest lap time was only 0.001 seconds quicker than Hezemans’ best. Ercoli and Tziortzis praised the fair spirit and respect of the battle they had and the rivals shook hands after an intense race and a spectacular fight for the runner-up position. Vittorio Ghirelli ended up fourth, missing out on the podium by 5,966 seconds while defending from a fierce group of competitors.
Q1 topper Sebastiaan Bleekemolen rounded out the top-5 and proved the strong pace of Team Bleekemolen by crossing the finish line right behind his teammate. EuroNASCAR PRO returnee, Speedhouse owner, engineer and driver coach Lucas Lasserre made a notable comeback at the wheel of the #64 Ford edging out two-time champion Anthony Kumpen in the #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro, who will take on his first full-time campaign since 2017. He was followed by a total of 18 years of experience in EuroNASCAR: CAAL Racing’s Marc Goossens and RDV Competition’s Frederic Gabillon.
Junior Trophy Champion Giorgio Maggi had braking issues after lap 3 and had to let four competitors by in a single lap. The Race Art Technology driver from Switzerland recovered and brought home the #18 Ford in tenth place and third in the Junior Trophy ranks. The Challenger Trophy win went to Fabrizio Armetta in 14th, but the Italian had to fight hard for glory as Massimiliano Lanza was putting a lot of pressure on the The Club Motorsport driver. Advait Dheodhar wasn’t happy about his driving but the Indian brought home a third place in the Challenger Trophy in his EuroNASCAR PRO debut. Thomas Toffel secured the bonus points for most positions gained, having moved up five places over the course of the race to finish 19th.