EuroNASCAR is only for the brave, Aliyyah Koloc celebrates victory in the Ladies Cup in her first race in the series
A race full of shoves, crashes and yellow flags, but also one big show for the spectators, with thousands coming to the first race weekend of the EuroNASCAR series 2022 in Valencia, Spain. Making their historic debut in the series, Buggyra ZM Racing managed to tackle all odds and was able to take away some valuable experience after the weekend and thanks to Gustas Grinbergas, a 19-year-old Lithuanian race driver, a top ten finish. In addition, Aliyyah Koloc was the top female finisher in the opening round of the EuroNASCAR 2 category. She is now second overall in the Ladies Cup.
"This was our debut and as rookies we learned that EuroNASCAR is really sharp racing but our drivers have adapted really well. Especially Aliyyah Koloc and Téo Calvet navigated the packed field perfectly and left no stone unturned," said Ludovic Pezé, Team Principal of Motors Formula Team, with whom Buggyra cooperates in this championship.
"As rookies, it's important for us to learn how to set up the car properly. We are up against teams that have been around for seven years or more. They know all the details and grey areas of the set-up. But overall, we can say that our debut went very well," added the French manager.
There was a major change in the team before the start. As Yasmeen Koloc is still suffering from the consequences of a serious crash at the Spa-Francorchamps 12H sports car race, Téo Calvet replaced her in the cockpit of the NASCAR 2 car.
"I enjoyed the training, it was a completely new experience. But unfortunately I still can't race because of the Spa-Francorchamps injury. I hope it will work out for the next race," said the 17-year-old Yasmeen Koloc.
Her twin sister Aliyyah was the youngest driver to start in the strong field of the elite NASCAR Pro category. In addition to quality competitors, she also had to deal with tremendous heat.
"It was really hot in the car. The car doesn't have any assistance, so you have to drive without any mistakes. The Ricardo Tormo circuit has a number of challenging long corners where it is not easy to find the optimum trackline. I'm still learning, but it's slower in the heat," commented Aliyyah Koloc.
Despite the cockpit literally being a sauna, the 17-year-old did not shy away from fierce battles and was willing to take and dish out punches both days.
Unfortunately, on Saturday her efforts were thwarted by technical problems at the very end. Prior to that, Aliyyah had successfully managed to fight her way forward through the packed field.
"At that moment, my mind flashed: No, no, no! I tried my best to keep going. I was quite upset because I was having a good race and managed to pass a few cars," the young driver described her feelings.
On Sunday, the car was at a 100% and Aliyyah finished 13th in the overall standings. "I had a very good start. It was a long race, full of battles. But I'm happy that I managed to get such a good result," said Aliyyah after the race.
Lithuanian Buggyra Academy rookie Gustas Grinbergas also competed for Buggyra ZM Racing in Valencia in NASCAR Pro series. The 19-year-old driver achieved the best result for the team, with a Top 10 place in Saturday's race.
"I got great results for the team, I am happy with the whole race weekend. We learned a lot. I had a lot of on-track battles. There were also a lot of problems, but we were able to solve them and keep improving. The more time we have in the car, the faster we will be," believes the talented youngster from Lithuania.
Aliyyah Koloc completed a full "double shift" at Valencia as planned. As the youngest female driver she also took the start in the NASCAR 2 category.
In the race on Saturday, she kept up with her competition despite contact and less hours in the car. She also battled it out with teammate Téo Calvet. The young Buggyra racers put on a fair fight together. What's more, Aliyyah finished as the best female driver.
"The team worked hard, so that I could race in the NASCAR 2 category after technical problems in the EuroNASCAR Pro. I am very grateful for that. The start was quite chaotic, several cars in front of me have spun. I had to avoid them, so I lost some time. I caught up with Téo, but that's when my rival picked me up from behind and I have spun. Then I battled it out with Téo again. It was close, but we managed to avoid contact. I ended up being the fastest woman, which is great," says Aliyyah Koloc.
On Sunday, she had issues with a puncture on the first lap of the race. She then received a pit lane penalty, but she didn't give up and finished the race. If only to get the points she needed for the Women's Cup standings, in which she is currently second with only nine points behind the first placed woman.
"I had to go to the pits right at the start to change the tyres. Then I got a penalty, but I finished the race," said Aliyyah.
Téo Calvet enjoyed his debut in the EuroNASCAR series, which was crowned by his fifth place in the Junior category on Sunday. "I've never driven on the Ricardo Tormo circuit before. And let me tell you, it's not an easy track at all. The racing was dramatic, full of battles and overtaking, I enjoyed it. The NASCAR car is a lot like a race truck, so the change wasn't that dramatic," said the 21-year-old Frenchman.
"In the first race the driver in front of me braked hard and I hit him from behind. At that moment I suddenly saw the sky and got a bit scared. But I really enjoyed my time here in Valencia," added a delighted Calvet.
"Our drivers were great this weekend, the atmosphere was great, there were some close battles on track and the whole team has been improving. We are looking forward to the next races," summed up Ludovic Pezé the team’s EuroNASCAR debut.
Already on Friday, Dakar legend Josef Macháček made his circuit debut. The 65-year-old driver did well in the gentlemen's competition, called Club Challenge. In the second of the three races he even finished in an excellent second position. In the end, he finished sixth overall on the Spanish track.
"Even though I have 40 years of off-road experience, the circuit was a great challenge. You need to practice, it doesn't come all by itself. You have to hit the right braking points, take the corners quickly," described six-time Dakar winner his new experience.
Full results of the race in Valencia can be found here: https://www.euronascar.com/results/2022-euronascar-pro-results/
Overall: 1. Rocca (It./CAAL Racing) 74 p., 2. Day (Izr./PK Carsport) 73, 3. Graff (Sweden./Speedhouse) 66,... 9. Grinbergas (Lit./Buggyra) 53, 18. A. Koloc (UAE/Buggyra) 40
Junior: 1. Dauenhauer (Germany/Hendriks Motorsport)64,... 2. Grinbergas (Lithuania/Buggyra) 53, 5. A. Koloc (UAE/Buggyra) 40
Overall: 1. Naska (It./CAAL Racing) 75 p., 2. Doubek (CZ/Hendriks Motorsport) 69., 3. Tziortzis (Kyp./Academy Motorsport ) 66,... 10. Calvet (France/Buggyra) 50, 23. A. Koloc (UAE/Buggyra) 30
Rookies: 1. Naska (It./CAAL Racing) 75 pts., ... 4. Calvet (France/Buggyra) 50, 9. A. Koloc (UAE/Buggyra) 30
Ladie's Cup: 1. Del Castello (It/ CAAL Racing) 39 p., 2. A. Koloc (UAE/Buggyra) 30, 3. Casoli (It./Speedhouse) 29
1. CAAL Racing (#56) 139pts, ... 8. Buggyra ZM Racing (#38) 103, 20. Buggyra ZM Racing (#29) 70