AutoCross – Ledda wins as Gayoso Vazquez is crowned champion in the 2022 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy final
- Miguel Gayoso Vazquez clinched the second annual FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy title with a superb performance at his home circuit
- Valentino Ledda overcame a disqualification in the heats – and in doing so drove to his third victory in five rounds in this year’s championship
- Debutants Diego Martinez and Amaan Altaf Ganatra put on a strong showing against much more experienced competition
Miguel Gayoso Vazquez was crowned champion after an action-packed final day of the 2022 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy season, held in Mollerussa, Spain.
Competing at his home circuit and the circuit where he began his competitive career, the 16-year-old arrived with a 10-point lead over his closest rival, Italy’s Valentino Ledda, and was the pacesetter all weekend.
Fastest in warm-up, practice and all three qualifying heats, it would take a tremendous effort from his rivals and some bad luck on his part for Gayoso Vazquez to stumble in the season finale.
Only Czech youngster Stanislav Brousek, third in the table, appeared to have the pace to challenge Gayoso Vazquez. Both youngsters dominated their respective qualifying runs, which were not without drama.
Shockwaves echoed through the Cross Car Academy garage as Ledda was disqualified from the second of his three heats after it was ruled he caused an avoidable collision with Belgium’s Romauld Demelenne.
Meanwhile, Diego Martinez, a newcomer to the Cross Car Academy Trophy who will represent Spain at the FIA Motorsport Games later this month, also gave the series regulars something to think about. Martinez finished second to Gayoso Vazquez in his final heat after challenging the championship leader hard throughout the race.
Both Martinez and fellow newcomer to the field, Kenyan racer Amaan Altaf Ganatra, have done brilliantly and quickly become familiar with the LifeLive TN5 buggies that are being prepared by the Belgian team of experts for all FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy contenders .
“Autocross is a little different in Kenya,” said Ganatra, the first African competitor to compete in the FIA’s premier off-road junior series. “It’s more like a rally stage where we drive individually. This is very different but great fun; I enjoy the challenge.”
For his part, Martinez was very encouraged to have shown such strong pace in the heats as part of his preparation for the Motorsport Games at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France on October 29-30.
“My own car is not homologated by the FIA like these cars, it’s more like a kart so you have to keep your speed in the corners,” he said. “I’m more comfortable in the car, we’re changing the suspension a bit and it’s going well.”
The only downside to the presence of two fast newcomers in the field was that the championship director and the only female racer in the field, Cypriot Tara Laconico, were knocked off the grid for the finale.
Laconico, who comes from a karting sport on tarmac surfaces, had accepted the FIA Cross Car Academy challenge head on and after a little inter-heat tutelage from five-time FIA World Rally Championship runner-up Thierry Neuville in Mollerussa, she was eight seconds adrift Lap faster than their warm up times.
As the grid formed for the title decider, Gayoso Vazquez was on pole, with Brousek alongside him and Demelenne completing the front row. Behind them sat Martinez and Ledda while the rest of the qualifiers filled the last two rows.
At the start, Gayoso Vazquez and Brousek went wheel to wheel, but a slow start from Demelenne created a gap that Ledda and Martinez pushed into, with the Italian then diving inside at the first corner to take third place.
The front three cars entered the hairpin simultaneously, with Ledda managing to pick up enough momentum to challenge Gayoso Vazquez for the lead after Brousek was pushed wide forward. After putting his nose in front, the Italian pulled away in the lead, whom he steadfastly refused to give up all The way to the flag.
“I was in overdrive!” Ledda said of his lightning start. “I wanted to win here because it was Miguel’s home race as championship leader. It’s my third win in five races in the Championship so I’m pleased we can go home, maybe not as champions but with something to show for it.
“All the drivers who race here at Cross Car Academy have been really good and I’m happy for my friend Miguel. For me I did my best, the maximum, to take some pride home with me.”
Much pride was seen among the large and passionate crowd as their local boy, Gayoso Vazquez, took the league title and was joined on the podium by Martinez. The sovereignty with which the two youngsters started the race did them credit.
“I came here with the opportunity to become European Champion with the FIA Cross Car Academy and finally I did it,” said an enthusiastic Gayoso Vazquez. “At the start it was very scary not making any mistakes and second place was enough for me to become champion so I’m very happy to be here.
“I was first in all heats, but Valentino was very, very fast. It was a great fight and I’m very happy. He and I have a very good relationship and I am very happy that he was able to take second place in the championship.”
With the FIA Motorsport Games only three weeks away, the LifeLive team will be busy preparing their cars for another major event from the moment they return to their workshops. In the meantime, spots are still available for Season 3 of the FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy for drivers aged 13-16 in 2023.
With up to 20 cars eligible to compete in each of the five qualifying rounds and sharing the stage with the FIA European Autocross Championship, the 2023 FIA Cross Car Academy provides the perfect platform for national motorsport bodies to nurture the young talent who are they bode well for a bright future in rally, rallycross or autocross competition.
To find out more about a place on the starting grid, please contact [email protected]
Find the latest news and information from the 2022 FIA Cross Car Academy here: https://www.fia.com/events/european-autocross-championship/season-2022/classifications
Full championship information can be found here https://www.xcacademytrophy.com