Belgian drivers score 1-2-3 at FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy in Maggiora

  • Jordan Genten seals victory after a consummate weekend’s performance
  • Emilien Allart makes lightning pass to move from third to first on opening lap of final
  • Lucas Cartelle completes podium lock-out after a thrilling Italian encounter

A compelling final day’s action at the Maggiora Offroad Arena ensured that the 2023 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy title race will go down to the wire. The field of drivers aged between 13 and 16 years delivered a full race card of two rounds of heats, a semi-final and final to close out a memorable weekend in Italy.

Two drivers had made their mark on Saturday’s opening heats: Spaniard Diego Gonzalez Martinez and Belgian Jordan Genten, who each crossed the line first. These two drivers were only marginally ahead of points leader Emilien Allart and fellow series sophomore Matteo Bernini, together with debutant Marcus Martinelli showing impressive speed.

As the last residue of Saturday’s torrential rain showers was burning off in the autumn sun as the grid formed for the first heat on Sunday morning. Belgian driver Lucas Cartelle got away cleanly and firmly shut the door at the first corner, where Genten put up a muscular defence against Czech female racer Amalie Zidkova’s bold charge down the outside – allowing Martinelli through into third place.

Despite repeatedly bouncing off each other throughout the race, Cartelle was able to hold Genten off to see the chequered flag first ahead of Genten and Bernini, Martinelli fourth and Zidkova recovering to fifth after clouting the wall and having to chase down the newly-crowned ADAC German Cross Car champion Bryan Neumayer.

The second half of the draw got the day’s first taste of the action with Allart and Gonzalez Martinez making a break from the pursuing pack. The Spaniard made his way to the front cleanly and took the flag.

There was plenty of work for the drivers and the engineers from chassis constructor LifeLive as they sought to fully dial in the handling of their fleet of identical TN5 buggies for the dry and increasingly warm conditions in Maggiora.

Allart’s experience clearly paid dividends as he drove to an unchallenged victory over Gonzalez Martinez in their second heat of the day. Genten followed up by taking his final heat by a similarly comfortable margin and, with the top of the order set, all eyes fell on the first semi-final elimination round to be held so far in the 2023 season.

With 12 drivers present and only ten places on the grid for the final, tensions were running high over where the cruellest cut might fall. The first semi-final provided huge encouragement for the large and passionate Italian crowd as Bernini took the flag from Allart and Gonzalez Martinez.

At the back of the field there was trouble when Argentinean driver Juan Manuel Grigera collided with Neumayer on the penultimate lap and put them both in jeopardy. In the end, the stewards found Grigera guilty of causing an avoidable incident and he was put to last place, eliminating him from the final.

The second half of the semis was a far easier affair for Genten, who drove off into an unchallenged lead ahead of fellow countryman Marius Debuisson. A collision between Cartelle and Italian Alexander Karim Mancusi put them out of the running, promoting Monegasque driver Tomas Pregliasco to third, which he narrowly held on to from Zidkova. The result meant that Mancusi and Grigera were the two drivers whose weekends ended early.

This ten cars lined up for the all-important final race of the weekend: Genten on pole position beside Bernini and Allart on the front row; Debuisson and Gonzalez Martinez filling the second row; Pregliasco, Martinelli and Zidkova on the third row and Cartelle and Neumayer bringing up the rear.

Once again the lifelive engineers had their work cut out for them but they effected the repairs and made the setup changes needed to ensure an immaculate and race-ready field stood ready for the start.

When the lights turned green, Bernini got away cleanly in front of Genten and Allart and the trio of title contenders began to pull away from the pack in line astern. At the end of the first lap, however, Allart rolled the dice and stayed out wide on the final 180-degree corner where the track surface had been swept clean by the more powerful FIA European Autocross Championship cars during their semi-final races.

The move proved to be inspired, with Allart zooming around the outside of both rivals to assume the lead. “I had been watching the other classes cleaning the outside line and it looked faster,” Allart confirmed.

“But then I saw the water truck go round to dampen the surface immediately before our race and I was worried it might be slippery but when we got there it had only sprayed the middle of the track. When the other guys braked and turned to defend the inside I just had to think of the championship points and stay on the gas – and it worked!”

Allart was able to maintain his advantage over the next lap, but soon Genten had gone past Bernini and began to hunt down the points leader. By the end of the third lap, Genten had got through and while Allart kept the pressure on him there was no way that surrender was on the cards.

“Emilien surprised us with the pass around the outside but I knew that I was faster,” Genten said after celebrating his victory at Maggiora. I had to be a little patient but I knew he wouldn’t risk the points by blocking when I got alongside. I am so happy with this win, it was a really fast weekend for us.”

Completing the Belgian celebrations, Lucas Cartelle made his way past Bernini to complete a national lock-out on the FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy podium, while the Italian was followed home by Gonzalez Martinez who eventually prevailed in a race-long battle with Zidkova.

Martinelli and Neumayer were the last cars home, with Pregliasco having been the only casualty from the ten-car final when he went off on the opening lap.

The deciding round of the 2023 FIA Cross Car Academy will take place at the Mollerusa autocross circuit in Spain on October 7-8.


Final Classification, FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy, Round 4

Maggiora, Italy


1            Jordan Genten                                          BEL                     LifeLive TN5                    5m 43.965s

2            Emilien Allart                              BEL                     LifeLive TN5                   +2.861s

3            Lucas Cartelle                             BEL                     LifeLive TN5                   +10.951s

4            Matteo Bernini                           ITA                      LifeLive TN5                   +15.407s

5            Diego Gonzalez Martinez       ESP                     LifeLive TN5                   +22.269s

6            Amalie Zidkova                           CZE                     LifeLive TN5                   +25.924s

7            Marius Debuisson                     BEL                     LifeLive TN5                   +26.266s

8            Marco Martinelli                       ITA                      Lifelive TN5                   +27.438s

9            Bryan Neumayer                        DEU                    LifeLive TN5                   +28.353s

10         Tomas Pregliasco                       MCO                  LifeLive TN5                   -7 laps

DNS      Alexander Karim Mancusi      ITA                      LifeLive TN5                  

DNS      Juan Manuel Grigera                ARG                    LifeLive TN5                  


FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy standings after Round 4 of 5


1            Emilien Allart                              BEL                     127 points

4            Jordan Genten                                          BEL                     108

3            Lucas Cartelle                             BEL                     105

4            Diego Gonzalez Martinez       ESP                     103

5            Matteo Bernini                           ITA                      96

6            Marius Debuisson                     BEL                     68

7            Tomas Pregliasco                       MCO                  65

8            Juan Manuel Grigera                ARG                    65

9            Alexander Karim Mancusi      ITA                      52

10         Bryan Neumeyer                        DEU                    41

11         Amalie Zidkova                           CZE                     37

12         Etan Pepujol                                FRA                     29

13         Marcus Martinelli                     ITA                      17