Race action kicks off 2022 FIA Motorsport Games

28 October 2022

The 2022 FIA Motorsport Games stepped up a gear on Friday, with several competitive sessions taking place at Circuit Paul Ricard and a host of other activities staged on and off the track. This paved the way for an even busier Saturday, which will see the first medals of the event's second edition handed out. 

Auto Slalom

Team Germany topped the Auto Slalom leaderboard after the first two days of action at Circuit Paul Ricard. Claire Schonborn and Marcel Hellberg put their nation on top thanks to an impressively clean set of runs in the Opel Corsa-e Rally. 

They were 2.834s clear of Team Hungary (Martin Bognar & Tunde Deak), with Team Latvia (Maija Stakena & Toms Ozols) in third and Team Slovakia (David Nemcek & Michaela Dorcikova) fourth. These were the first of four nations that will compete in tomorrow's round of 16, with Team Peru snatching the final spot ahead of the unfortunate Brazilians. 

The next stage will see the competitors whittled down to eight. At this point a knockout process begins, culminating in Sunday afternoon's medal-deciding final at 13:00.

Cross Car Junior & Senior

Cross Car competition kicked off today, with the action taking place at Circuit de Veynes some 200 kilometres away from the main centre of FIA Motorsport Games activities at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Three free practice sessions, each lasting four laps, gave drivers a chance to get used to the track. These were followed by two qualifying sessions, which set the grid for the opening heat races. 

In the first Junior session, Romauld Demelenne won for Team Belgium ahead of Team France and Team Latvia. The Senior contest saw Patrick Halberg triumph for Team Sweden, with Team France taking another runner-up finish and Team Norway placing third. The French had been quick all day, but the Swedes – newcomers to the discipline – ultimately took an impressive win. 

There will be further heats tomorrow at Circuit de Veynes, building up to the knockout phase and culminating in the medal-deciding final at 15:00. Of note, WRC star Thierry Neuville – who launched the company that has provided the Cross Cars – was present at the event today; he will be back again on Saturday to speak with the Junior drivers, many of whom will be eyeing a possible future in rallying. 

Drifting

Team Poland earned first bragging rights in Drifting Qualifying, as an incredible turnout of 30 nations were in action to entertain the crowds ahead of Saturday’s main event.

Closest to the Polish contingent was that of Team UK and the impressive Martin Richards, who strung together a superb opening run that was enough for the runner-up accolade by scoring 92 points in his Nissan Skyline R32 - surviving a missing bumper after the slightest cone clip on corner entry.

The other nations making it into the top 16 in the results included Romania, France, Georgia, Denmark, Latvia, Greece, Hong Kong China, Hungary, Estonia, Sweden and Finland. 

Tandem Practice will take place on Saturday morning before the knockout stages and Final kick off from 13:45, with first place taking on 16th, second battling 15th, and so on to decide the medals. 

Fanatec Esports

The top 30 racers have been locked in for the semi-finals of the Fanatec Esports discipline after three dramatic quarter-finals today.

The top 10 racers in each Quarter-Final race earned an automatic semi-final spot with remaining racers having to fight their way in via three last chance races on Friday afternoon.

In the final 60-minute Quarter-Final battle, Team UK's James Baldwin - the former World's Fastest Gamer winner and multiple SRO Esports champion – completely dominated the event. After starting from pole, drama behind him in the first corner helped his cause, but he raced away to a 33.57-second victory.

Tomorrow it will be time to fight for gold, silver and bronze medals. All remaining racers will enjoy a final practice session in the morning before the two Semi-Finals at 13:15 and 14.45. The 110-minute Final will go green at 17:35, with all racers again competing on the Assetto Corsa Competizione platform with Fanatec hardware.

KCMG Formula 4

Team Italy racer, 16-year-old Andrea Kimi Antonelli set the pace in both practice sessions today in KCMG Formula 4.

The young Italian from Bologna stopped the clocks in the first session 2:08.127 to lead Team Portugal's Manuel Espírito-Santo and Team Austria's Charlie Wurz - the 16-year-old son of ex-Formula 1 racer and Le Mans winner, Alex Wurz.

In the second session the same three drivers filled the top three positions, this time Wurz setting the second-fastest time over Espírito-Santo.

A 25-minute qualifying session will go green tomorrow at 10:00 am, followed by the 20-minute qualifying race at 17:35.

GT 

Team Germany secured a dominant victory in Friday's opening GT qualifying race at Circuit Paul Ricard, confirming Valentin Pierburg and Fabian Schiller as favourites to secure the gold tomorrow afternoon. 

The top four finishers came home in the same position they started, but that does not tell the full story. Positions two through four were shuffled during the 60-minute contest, which saw plenty of drama on the 5.8 km circuit.

A second qualifying race will run tomorrow at 11:10. This will be combined with the result from this evening's contest to set the grid for the medal-deciding final, which rolls off at 14:15 CEST tomorrow afternoon. 

Karting Endurance

The 16 nations contesting Karting Endurance kicked off with four free practice sessions at the Circuit Paul Ricard kart track throughout Friday.

With one session for each team’s four participants, Team Belgium (Maxime Drion, Jeremy Peclers, Sita Vanmeert and Antoine Morlet) claimed the top time in the first and last sessions of the day, and featured among the top three in all but one outing.

Team UK (Jack O’Neil, Mike Philippou, Owen Jenmad and Rhianna Kay Purcock) led the way in FP2 and featured in the top three in all four sessions, while Team Poland (Kornelia Olkucka, Jakub Rajski, Marcel Kuc and Adam Szydlowski) were fastest in FP3.

Karting Endurance action resumes with qualifying practice at 09:30 tomorrow (Saturday) to set the grid for the four-hour race, which is scheduled to start at 11:30.

Karting Slalom 

Team Poland head Karting Slalom, as the field whittles down to the top 16 that go through to the next round on Saturday.

Emilia Urszula and Karol Krol head the order with a combined time of 2:52.106 having scored two clear runs in the first Karting Slalom session on Friday. They lead Sebastian Romberg and Annika Spielberger by 5.3s, after the Team Germany duo ranked highly in session two - Spielberger the only frontrunner to score a completely clean run.

Team Hungary lies in the top three after Adam Szabo came top of this morning’s session, with team-mate Lilla Horn ranking sixth. Team Estonia and Martaliisa Meindorf and Jurgen Laansoo sit less than half a second further down the order in fourth. Team Hong Kong China scraped through to the top 16, giving Jaden Ing and Sum Nga Mok a chance to climb up the order tomorrow morning.

Karting Slalom action continues with the Eight Final scheduled for 09:00 Saturday, ahead of the Quarter Final at 12:00.

Karting Sprint Junior & Senior

Israel and Belgium claimed qualifying practice pole positions to secure a prime starting slot for tomorrow’s qualifying heats in the Karting Sprint Junior and Senior competitions at Circuit Paul Ricard. 

In Sprint Jr Israel and Brazil locked out the front row for the first qualifying heat of the Games, France and Peru will line up on row two, while Denmark and Belgium complete the top six.

In the Senior competition, Belgium and Spain locked out the front row for the first qualifying heat of the Senior competition ahead of Sweden and Denmark at 10:45 tomorrow. Hungary and Israel complete row three while Chile and Sri Lanka will line-up on row four.

Rally2, Rally4, Historic Rally

After a morning charge by Team Spain in Rally4, the leading duo of Oscar Palomo Ortiz / Rodrigo Sanjuan started the second loop of the day in positive fashion by extending their lead to 11 seconds with victory on SS4 over their chasing rivals, Team Italy. The latter - with their pairing of Roberto Daprà / Luca Guglielmetti - then swiftly hit back at their fellow Peugeot 208 rivals with a brace of stage victories to ramp up the pressure at the head of the times, Team Spain winning the final stage at Circuit Paul Ricard to claim a slender 1.1s lead into Saturday’s fight for the medals.

Rally2 action ended with a more comprehensive leader on Friday as Team France won all but one stage, Mathieu Arzeno / Romain Roche taking a healthy 41s lead in their Skoda Fabia over Team Spain’s José Maria López / Borja Rozada - who ended the day with victory at Circuit Paul Ricard on the Super Special Stage. Third place was held into Saturday by Team Türkiye and the flying Ali Turkkan / Ahmet Burak Erdener in their Ford Fiesta.

Historic Rally continues to be dominated by Team Italy and the venomous Audi Quattro of Andrea Zivian / Nicola Arena, as they made it seven stage wins from seven to confirm their place at the top of the leaderboard by 1m01s. Team Czech Republic were best of the rest with a strong showing throughout the afternoon by Vojtěch Štajf / Vladimir Zelinka in their Opel Kadett, while Team Spain settled into third place with Antonio Sainz / David de la Puente in their Porsche 911 SC.

Touring Car

Three-time FIA WTCR race winner Gilles Magnus took the hot seat for the Belgian entry, popping in the fastest time of the session at Circuit Paul Ricard in his Audi RS3 LMS after swapping the top spot with Team Ireland who were heading the way in the early minutes. 

The Irish charge, Jack Young, ended just 0.302s adrift of Team Belgium in his Honda Civic Type-R TCR car after a similarly strong showing, with 18 nations set to take part in the highly competitive event.

Saturday features a second Free Practice session at 12:20, with Qualifying taking place later in the afternoon at 18:05.