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Méat wins last lap thriller in Cross Car as FIA European Autocross season begins


- Defending champion David Méat prevails over 36-strong entry for Cross Car Championship opener at Seelow, Germany

- Mature drive from FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy champion Miguel Gayoso Vazquez in senior debut

- Autocross action underway in all classes of the FIA European Championship

The 2023 Cross Car season got underway this weekend (May 13-14) at Crossstrecke Seelow, a few kilometres east of Berlin. Running among the main FIA European Autocross Championship categories, the Cross Cars delivered huge entertainment to the sizeable crowd in attendance.

Autocross was created in Britain in the late 1940s as single-stage rallying on farmland in mildly modified road cars. The concept took off in Europe as an affordable, accessible grassroots sport, leading to the development of specialised buggies and dedicated autocross arenas.

Autocross remains a competition against the clock, but events are completed in an elimination race format. Progression through the heats and semi-finals to the final, and the grid positions for each round, are based on total time rather than race position.

Cross Car, launched in 2018, is the entry-level category for lightweight two-wheel-drive buggies powered by motorcycle engines of up to 150 hp. The entry list for Cross Car events are a mix of amateur racers on a budget and aspiring rally, rallycross and autocross drivers of the future, with the FIA Cross Car Academy offering a special arrive-and-drive package for 13-to-16-year-old talent.

A total of 36 Cross Car contenders arrived from across Europe for the encounter, with the entry headed by defending champion David Méat of France. In the off-season, Méat joined forces with the Belgian specialists at LifeLive, with Seelow bringing the European series debut of both the new partnership and LifeLive’s new TN11 buggy.

After the Warm-Up and Timed Practice sessions were completed, the early running was made by drivers including Petr Doležal of the Czech Republic, Frenchman Valentin Comte and Spaniard Ivan Piña Chinchilla, who each won the three opening heats.

Also progressing through was series debutant and reigning FIA Cross Car Academy champion Miguel Gayoso Vazquez, the teenage Spanish star adapting his style from the 75 hp Academy specification to full 150 hp open competition with aplomb.

In the first Semi-final, Comte was bested by Spaniard Juan Jose Moll Hernandez while the second was won by Chinchilla from Méat, with the front two rows of the grid for the Final being completed by Doležal. Also making it through were Belgian Dimitri Collin, Frenchman Vincent Priat, Spaniards Borja Gonzalez and Academy champion Vazquez Gayoso with Italy’s Simone Firenze completing the field.

On the opening lap of the final a multi-car pile-up took some sorting out, from which most drivers continued but Gayoso Vazquez was eliminated with steering and suspension damage. Out in front a three-way battle for the lead between Chinchilla, Comte and Méat. The two Frenchmen briefly delayed each other while Méat found a way through and then set off in pursuit of the leader as he in turn began to work his way through lapped traffic.

The gap see-sawed until Méat took a huge make-or-break lunge at the start of the final lap to get ahead, with Chinchilla finishing second and Comte completing the podium. The delighted Frenchman was thrilled to start the new season and his new relationship with LifeLive with such a battle.

In the senior Autocross classes, the championship season began with victories for Czech ace Arnošt Florián in Junior Buggy, for Germany’s Steven Laubach in Buggy 1600 and for defending champion Petr Nikodem in the premier Super Buggy class, where cars feature 4WD and up to 800 hp.

The Autocross and Cross Car contenders will return to Germany for the second round of their series at Matschenberg near Dresden on June 24-25. This event will also play host to the first round of the 2023 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy, with up to 20 of the LifeLive NT5 buggies available for talented youngsters supported by their national ASN and motor clubs.

Any ASNs seeking further information on entering the Academy should contact LifeLive Commercial and Administrative Manager, Danny Müller