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Three-way battle for the overall crown between Spanish, Italian and Czech talents
Teenage racers prepare to end a season marked by comradeship and close competition
First African competitor joins newcomers to the FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy in preparation for FIA Motorsport Games
The FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy reaches its climax in Catalunya this weekend (October 8-9), as the field of teenage drivers, all hoping to reach the senior level in rallying, rallycross or autocross competition, hold the final event of their season at Mollerussa, north west of Barcelona.
Ending its second season, the FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy features a field of identically-prepared 75 horsepower LifeLive TN5 buggies. The professional team at LifeLive under experienced Belgian autocross and rally preparation expert Yannick Neuville provides the vehicles, engineers and coaching support to ensure that each driver has the best platform from which to develop towards their long-term goals.
With four of the five rounds completed, the scales are finely balanced in the championship battle between points leader Miguel Gayoso Vazquez from Spain and his Italian challenger Valentino Ledda.
Each youngster has won two rounds of the series apiece, Ledda took first blood at the opening round of the series in Matschenberg, Germany with Gayoso Vazquez in second. The Spaniard then triumphed at Toldijk in the Netherlands for the second round with Ledda third.
Another win for Gayoso Vazquez followed at Prerov in the Czech Republic while Ledda’s car suffered damage in the pitched battle for positions throughout the field, leaving him in a must-win situation at home in Maggiora, Italy two weeks ago. After completing a muscular pass on Gayoso Vazquez for the lead, Ledda duly delivered.
Just 10 points now separate these two drivers at the top of the points table but they are by no means the only championship contenders. Stanislav Brousek from the Czech Republic has delivered a sublimely consistent season in 2022, reaching the podium in all but one of the rounds so far. He currently sits just five points behind Ledda in the points standings and, if the two drivers ahead of him have a bad weekend, he could be a dark horse for the title.
“I’m still championship leader,” Gayoso Vazquez said. “It’s been a pretty beautiful season, I’m very happy with my year so far. We have had very, very good races this year and I feel very positive coming home at the end to race against Valentino and Stanislav and to see my friends here in the Cross Car Academy Trophy again.”
The tangible comradeship between the multinational FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy contenders has been another major feature of the year alongside the close racing. After every track session the drivers, all of whom are aged between 13 and 16 years, immediately gather to celebrate, commiserate and share their experiences.
There remains a pitched points battle between fourth and eighth in the standings, which currently sees German youngster Samuel Drews heading the chase of the championship’s big three’. Both drews and Belgium’s Romauld Demelenne have reached the podium this season in Prerov and stand one point apart in the rankings.
Just behind them another single point separate’s Norwegian youngster Erik Steinholt from Belgium’s Emilien Allart, with Allart doubtless keen to build on his pace at the last event in Maggiora, where he won his first heat but crashed out of the final in a spectacular roll.
Italy’s Matteo Bernini has come a long way in the series this season, being the only driver to have consistently seen his scores improving from one race to the next. If this trajectory continues then a podium challenge should be expected imminently.
Cypriot female racer Tara Laconico has had to re-learn almost everything she knew about the sport, having arrived in the FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy from a successful circuit racing career in karts. Her smooth style marks her out on the track while her ability to conjure time from one session to the next has never failed to impress and she will be hoping to end the year on a high note.
Joining the regular contenders in Spain will be two new faces. Diego Martinez is a regular competitor in national Cross Car competition in Spain and will be hoping to make a big impression before representing his country in the FIA Motorsport Games at the Paul Ricard Circuit in le Castellet, France, which will be held at the end of this month.
Another World Motorsport Games hopeful is Kenyan youngster Amaan Altaf Ganatra, marking the first African competitor to take part in the FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy. He is highly rated among his peers and will use the European mileage to prepare for racing the same LifeLive TN5 buggies on October 29-30.
ASNs are being encouraged to act quickly in order to ensure a place in the 2023 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy to help promote their rising stars of the future. With the 2022 season having been priced at a highly competitive €21,250 per driver for all five events of practice, qualifying, three heats, a semi-final and a final together with full driver support from LifeLive, the value of the series as a showcase for up to 20 drivers is being clearly illustrated.
Part of the learning process for the drivers is sharing the stage with the FIA European Autocross Championship and playing to packed crowds at the premier offroad venues in the region. This weekend in Mollerussa the FIA Cross Car Academy contenders will be on the supporting racecard to the biggest names in the FIA European Autocross Championship as they decide their own title battles.
To find out more about getting a place on the grid please contact [email protected]
The latest news and information from the 2022 FIA Cross Car Academy can be found here: https://www.fia.com/events/european-autocross-championship/season-2022/classifications
Full championship information can be found here https://www.xcacademytrophy.com
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