The Swiss finished both EuroNASCAR PRO races in the top 10
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series visited the Autodrom Most last weekend and changeable conditions turned the races of the EuroNASCAR PRO Championship into real thrillers. In the middle of it all was Giorgio Maggi, who drives the #18 Ford Mustang for Dutch top team Hendriks Motorsport. The Swiss made it into the top 10 in both races and also secured victory in the Junior Trophy for drivers up to and including the age of 25 on Sunday.
Things got underway for the 23-year-old on Friday with two 30-minute free practice sessions. “I immediately felt comfortable in the car because we had a good setup for rain,” said Maggi, who finished sixth in the first session and second in the second. “But it was difficult to assess where we stood because the conditions kept changing. But our analyses showed that we could keep up at the front.”
In qualifying, every second was crucial toward the end of the session as the track continued to dry and get faster lap after lap. Maggi tried to burn two more fast laps into the asphalt, but didn’t make it across the finish line in time. “I tried to time my lap so that the tires were cool enough and I could have a second try. I made a mistake on my first fast lap, which is why it wasn’t enough. That was a shame because I think there was clearly more than eighth place in it.”
The first race went down in EuroNASCAR history. Despite the threat of rain, the drivers started on slicks, but showers would quickly lead to hectic pit stops and an unpredictable race. “In the first corner I had to avoid a spun vehicle, which is why I lost a few places. I subsequently fought my way back to the front,” said the race driver from Hergiswil. “However, I had to avoid another spinning car, which is why I ended up in the gravel and thus dropped back to 18th place.”
Then the rain came and Maggi went into the pits to have rain tires strapped on. “I then made up positions on the wet track, but struggled with aquaplaning in the third sector. On top of that, the windshield fogged up, the wiper didn’t want to work anymore and, because I had to drive with my visor open, I had to protect my eyes from the spray with one hand.” After 17 exciting laps, Maggi finished in seventh place, which was good enough for second in the Junior Trophy.
In the second race on Sunday – this time it stayed dry – Maggi started the race from tenth place. At the start, the Swiss immediately made up three places, but the safety car had to be deployed due to an accident, so the order was reset. After the subsequent single-file restart, Maggi again passed his rivals lap by lap until he had moved up to fifth place. He had already put the top group in his crosshairs when the brakes threw a wrench in his plans.
“The car was braking very one-sided and the soft brake pedal was an indication that the brakes were overheating,” Maggi explained. “That’s why I always had to move the brake balance back to allow the front brakes to cool down. Before heavy braking zones, I then had to change the balance again. I slowed down and then Lucas Lasserre was already behind me, putting a lot of pressure on me.”
Lasserre did eventually get past Maggi, who then brought his Ford Mustang across the finish line in sixth place. Curiously, he had run a piece of metal into his tire during the race, so his Hoosier slick was steadily losing air. “I was lucky that there was enough air left in the tire at the end to finish the race.” Sixth place was good enough to wrap up the Junior Trophy win.
At the halfway point of the season, Maggi sits eighth in the overall EuroNASCAR PRO standings, 50 points behind leader Loris Hezemans, who also competes for Hendriks Motorsports. The next NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race will be held on September 18 and 19 at the Automotodrom Grobnik in Croatia.