AutoCross - Ledda Wins as Gayoso Vazquez is Crowned Champion in 2022 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy Finale | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

AutoCross - Ledda Wins as Gayoso Vazquez is Crowned Champion in 2022 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy Finale

09.10.22
  • Miguel Gayoso Vazquez claimed the second annual FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy title with a superbly assured performance at his home track
  • Valentino Ledda overcame a disqualification in the heats – driving to his third win from five rounds in this year’s championship
  • Debutants Diego Martinez and Amaan Altaf Ganatra gave a strong account of themselves against much more experienced competition

Miguel Gayoso Vazquez has been crowned as champion after an all-action final day of the 2022 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy season played out at Mollerussa in Spain.

Competing on his home track and the circuit at which he began his competition career, the 16-year-old arrived with a 10-point cushion over his nearest rival, Italy’s Valentino Ledda, and was duly the pace-setter throughout the weekend.

Fastest in the warm-up, practice and all three qualifying heats, it would take a mighty effort from his rivals and some poor luck on his part for Gayoso Vazquez to stumble in the season finale.

Only Czech youngster Stanislav Brousek, third in the standings, appeared to have the pace with which to challenge Gayoso Vazquez. Both of the youngsters dominated their respective qualifying heats, which did not pass without drama.

Shock waves resounded through the Cross Car Academy garage when Ledda was disqualified from the second of his three heats after being judged to have 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, having challenged the championship leader sternly throughout the race.

Both Martinez and the other newcomer in the field, Kenyan racer Amaan Altaf Ganatra, acquitted themselves superbly, quickly getting to grips with the LifeLive TN5 buggies that are prepared by the expert Belgian team for all FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy Contenders.

“In Kenya, autocross is a little different,” said Ganatra, the first African competitor to grace the FIA’s key offroad junior series. “It is more like a rally stage where we go one at a time. This is very different but great fun; I am enjoying the challenge.”

For his part, Martinez was hugely 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 FIA homologation like these cars, these are more like karts so you have to keep your speed in the corners,” he said. “I am getting more comfortable in the car, we change a little the suspension and it goes well.”

The only downside to the presence of two fast newcomers in the field was that championship regular and the only female racer in the field, Cypriot Tara Laconico, was bumped off the grid for the final.

Having come from a kart racing background on paved surfaces, Laconico had taken the challenge of the FIA Cross Car Academy head-on, and after a little guidance between heats from five-time FIA World Rally Championship runner-up Thierry Neuville in Mollerussa, she was lapping eight seconds per lap faster than her warm-up times.

When the grid formed for the title-decider, Gayoso Vazquez was on pole position with Brousek alongside him and Demelenne completing the front row. Behind them sat Martinez and Ledda, with the rest of the qualifiers filling the final two rows.

At the start Gayoso Vazquez and Brousek went wheel-to-wheel but a slow launch from Demelenne made a gap into which Ledda and Martinez surged, with the Italian then diving up the inside of the first corner to take third place.

The front three cars arrived at the hairpin as one, with Ledda managing to carry enough momentum to challenge Gayoso Vazquez for the lead after Brousek was forced wide Having got his nose ahead, the Italian pulled away into a lead that he steadfastly refused to surrender all the way to the flag.

“I was at full-charge!” said Ledda of his lightning start. “I wanted to win here because it was the home race of Miguel as the leader of the championship. It is my third win from five races in the championship, so I am happy that we can go home, maybe not as champions, but with something to show.

“All the drivers racing here in the 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 home a little pride.”

There was plenty of pride on show among the large and passionate crowd as their local boy, Gayoso Vazquez, collected the championship title and was joined on the podium by Martinez. The assurance with which both youngsters tackled the event did them enormous credit.

“I came here with the possibility to be a European champion with the FIA Cross Car Academy and finally I did it,” said an elated Gayoso Vazquez. “It was very scary in the start not to do any mistakes and second place was enough for me to be champion so I’m very happy to be here.

“I was first in all the heats but Valentino was very, very fast. It was a great battle and I’m very happy. He and I have a very good relationship and I’m very happy he was able to take second place in the championship.”

With the FIA Motorsport Games taking place in just three weeks’ time, the LifeLive team will be busy preparing their cars for another major event from the moment that they return to their workshops. Meanwhile, places remain available on the grid for the third FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy season for drivers aged 13-16 in 2023.

With up to 20 cars able to take part in each of the five qualifying rounds, sharing the stage with the FIA European Autocross Championship, the 2023 FIA Cross Car Academy offers the perfect platform for national motorsport bodies to promote the young talent that they are nurturing towards a bright future in rally, rallycross or autocross competition.

To find out more about getting a place on the grid please contact info@life-live.be

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