Paul Jouffreau entered the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Victory Lane on Sunday as the EuroNASCAR 2 Champion and the French fans greeted the 19-year-old singing the French national anthem. The driver of the #3 RDV Competition Ford Mustang topped the overall standings at the end of a fierce battle against Vladimiros Tziortzis, Alberto Naska and Gil Linster in a drama-filled 2023 NWES season. For Jouffreau, it was his first title in EuroNASCAR, but it was also the first drivers title for RDV Competition since 2018.
The EuroNASCAR 2 Championship is known for its unpredictable outcomes, and thanks to the unique parity and competitiveness ruling in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the 2023 title battle was one for the ages. The season didn’t end without drama, as Jouffreau and Naska clashed in Saturday’s final, leaving Naska in a desperate situation for the final race of the season. Jouffreau was penalized and that put Tziortzis in the best position for the final race ahead of Jouffreau, Naska and Linster. Here is how the final race of the season went down.
1st: Paul Jouffreau (428 points)
In the end, it was Jouffreau who took the title. The Frenchman started from the pole position and dominated Sunday’s race, never giving the other title contenders a glimpse of a chance even when the weather conditions deteriorated. The Frenchman, who joined the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2022, finished at the top of the standings ahead of Tziortzis and Linster. Three race wins, eleven top-5 finishes and twelve top-10 results out of twelve races highlight a fantastic season for the Blayes native.
Saturday’s incident with Naska was still a hot topic after the end of the 2023 NWES season. Jouffreau and Naska battled intensely throughout the season, never giving up an inch on the track. In Final 1, the two went side-by-side on lap 9 in turn 1, where Jouffreau was pushed wide to the outside by Naska. Jouffreau then dived to the inside of Naska into turn 2. The Frenchman briefly lost control of the car on the curbs and hit Naska’s #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet, sending it into the gravel trap.
Jouffreau was penalized for the incident, but Naska was left without much of a chance for a comeback in the final race of the season. In the end, Naska was unable to finish Sunday’s race due to a contact with Arianna Casoli, who received a penalty from Race Control, but it was Jouffreau’s dominant race that put the seal on the 2023 EuroNASCAR 2 Championship.
2nd: Vladimiros Tziortzis (-4)
Tziortzis needed two more positions in Sunday’s finale to knock Jouffreau off the throne. The Cypriot was the winningest driver of the season with an impressive five wins, but he encountered difficulties at Circuit Zolder, the most important event of the year with double points on the line. Nevertheless, Tziortzis benefited from the clash between Jouffreau and Naska on Saturday to enter the last race of the season with a ten-point advantage on Jouffreau. The Frenchman was impossible to catch, but Tziortzis can be proud of a season in which he finished runner-up in the EuroNASCAR 2 standings and can look forward to further improving in 2024.
3rd: Gil Linster (-22)
Gil Linster will breathe a sigh of relief for breaking his curse of finishing fourth in the EuroNASCAR 2 championship. The Luxembourgish driver, at the wheel of the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Toyota Camry, scored his first career EuroNASCAR 2 win on Saturday when Jouffreau was penalized for the contact with Naska, making him the first Luxembourger to win an EuroNASCAR race. A dark horse in the championship battle, Linster maximized his results to take home third in the standings thanks to his strong consistency. In addition to his one race win, he scored nine top-5 finishes and eleven top-10 results.
4th: Patrick Schober (-40)
Double V Racing and Patrick Schober climbed the ladder in the 2023 EuroNASCAR 2 season, taking their first win at Oschersleben, Germany. The Austrian, who was born in Spain and currently lives in Slovakia, surprised everyone with his overtaking skills and earned a top-5 finish in the championship. Taking advantage of Naksa’s misfortune at Circuit Zolder, Schober scored two podium finishes to overtake the Italian and brought home fourth place in the standings. A total of one win, seven top-5 finishes and nine top-10 results highlighted a strong season for the Double V Racing driver and the young Italian team.
5th: Martin Doubek (-55)
The 2021 EuroNASCAR 2 Champion wasn’t among the title contenders, but Martin Doubek still finished a solid season on a high note. Like Schober, the Czech overtook Naska in the standings to finish in the top-5. The Hendriks Motorsport driver had a rollercoaster season at the wheel of the #7 Ford Mustang, but one pole position, five top-5s and seven top-10s prove that Doubek can never be ruled out in the battle for the EuroNASCAR 2 title. After two unlucky finishes at the Circuit Zolder, Naska only finished sixth in the 2023 NWES season despite his two race wins.