Two points or, simply put, one position on the track. Two drivers – Guillaume Deflandre and Ulysse Delsaux – will enter next week’s Circuit Zolder Finals separated by just two points in the battle for the ELITE 2 Division title, confirming the division’s reputation as the most unpredictable of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
After beginning the Semi Finals weekend at the iconic Hockenheimring 24 points behind Delsaux in his first season with Swedish team Memphis Racing, Deflandre delivered a third place on Saturday and perfectly positioned himself on Sunday to take advantage of Delsaux’s last lap puncture to grab the lead and the second win of the season. The Belgian also took the points lead by two marks on his French rival.
“We had a lot of fun during both races at Hockenheim. I managed to run a good pace and put pressure on my competitors and we were happy to be able to win move to the top of the championship,” said the 19-year-old Memphis Racing driver, who won his first career race at Zolder in 2017. “It’s great to enter Zolder in first place, but there’s a lot more to do. Since the beginning of the season, we have a very good relationship with Memphis Racing. Alexander (Graff, ndr.) and the team are a good group, we are all progressing together.”
In a season that’s shaping up as a further, impressive step forward in his development both as a driver and as a young man, 21-year-old Ulysse Delsaux already amassed 3 wins and 4 podiums and only a late puncture in the second Hockenheim race deprived him of another dominant win. The Frenchman, who was diagnosed with a form of Asperger Syndrome early in his life and found in racing the perfect way to express himself, is looking forward to the last weekend of the season.
“My best races were undoubtedly Tours and Hockenheim because we’ve been very strong in all sessions and we dominated both weekends. Hockenheim is my favorite track and it was big disappointment to lose the Sunday race, but it’s pointless to look backwards. We will focus on the next race,” said Delsaux.
Both Delsaux and Deflandre went straight from karting to the Euro NASCAR cars and took part in the NWES drivers development program, honing their skills in test sessions in Europe and making their NASCAR debut at the historic Bowman Gray Stadium. Both their careers evolved in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and they’re both within reach of their first major accomplishment.
But the battle for the ELITE 2 division title will not be limited only to to the two young talents, because there are four more drivers within a 50-point gap from the leader with a maximum of 176 points still to be awarded in the NASCAR GP of Belgium. Rookie Cup leader Florian Venturi and Knauf Racing Team driver Wilfried Boucenna sit respectively 20 and 22 points behind Deflandre, while Paul Guiod and Felipe Rabello have a 42 and 43 point gap to fill.
Despite the pressure, Delsaux and Deflandre are both focusing on themselves rather than on the opponents in preparation for the October 20-21 Circuit Zolder Finals.
“I do not put pressure on myself and my strategy is no different from other races. We will just do our best as always and see what we can get,” Deflandre said.
“I will not think about my rivals, we will need to be perfect and as a driver I must prove that I can win the ELITE 2 Division title, so I will do my best as always. I’m doing a lot of work on the simulator and I’m in the best physical and mental shape I’ve ever been. With Fred (Gabillon) we have a great relationship and a very good communication and I believe we can also win the Teams Championship together,” concluded Delsaux.
As customary for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the Circuit Zolder Finals will be streamed live on will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the EuroNASCAR Facebook page and Youtube Channel, the EuroNASCAR Twitter account, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media profiles across the globe.