Second round of the 2023 FIA Cross Car Academy Trophy Championship
An already highly competitive level where the gaps are widening!
In the heart of the cradle of European autocross, the most legendary race of the championship, the 2nd round of the Academy Trophy took place in France, at Saint Georges de Montaigu in Vendée July 22 and 23.
For this 2nd round of the championship, Bryan Neumeyer, committed to the entire championship, was unable to be present, but a new driver joined the Academy on freelance duty. Etan Pepujol, who had already taken part in the first edition in 2021 and in the Motorsport Games in 2022, was not totally new to the Academy.
A Frenchman taken by storm by Belgians
This weekend, the level was very high, as the drivers began to gain more and more confidence aboard their TN5s, and the races were immediately more impressive, worthy of the greatest. After all the qualifying practice sessions, 4 drivers quickly emerged at the top of the timesheets: Emilien Allart (BEL), Jordan Genten (BEL), Etan Pepujol (FRA) and Matteo Bernini (ITA). With all 4 in the same second per lap, the weekend was already shaping up to be a competitive one.
They then set off for 3 qualifying heats to determine their starting position on the grid for the final. And a new Belgian joined the party: Lucas Cartelle was at the front of the pack with a blistering pace, finishing 1st in the last 2 heats to take 1st place overall in the 3 heats. Just behind him came Etan, also at a very high level, despite not having had the Matschenberg race to prepare for, so he quickly regained control of his TN5. In third place overall for the 3 heats was Emilien Allart, winner of the first heat, who was there to prove that his victory was no fluke.
A final of warriors where elbows had to be elbowed
So it was these 3 drivers who started on the first row in the final, followed by Matteo Bernini and Jordan Genten on the second, then Diego Martinez, Juan Manuel Grigera and Tomas Pregliasco on the third, to finish with Marius Debuisson and Alexander Karim Mancusi on the last.
After a first start in which Emillien Allart had quickly overtaken the rest of the group in first place, the red flag was raised when Tomas Pregliasco took too sharp a turn and hit the embankment, ending up on two wheels. Fortunately, he was okay, and a second start was made.
At the second start, Lucas Cartelle took the reigns, with Emilien Allart and Etan Pepujol behind him. Etan soon showed that he wanted to win in front of his home crowd and was very aggressive, attacking the two Belgians in front of him. He took second place by diving on the inside of Emilien, then first on the last lap at the same bend by diving on the inside of Lucas Cartelle. He crossed the finish line on the highest step of the podium in front of his French fans, but following a decision by the FIA, his overtaking of Cartelle was deemed too dangerous and he was downgraded to third place.
Relive the race’s best moments on video
Academy Trophy overall standings after Saint Georges de Montaigu
The new TN11 stands among the best in its class
David Méat, official LifeLive driver, was also at home in front of his French fans this weekend. Having handily won this race last year on his old Cross Car, it was a new challenge for him this year with his new machine, the TN11 from the LifeLive team. A new challenge that he rose to, despite starting the weekend alongside 43 other competitors.
He finished his 3 qualifying heats like a rocket, in first place in each, and with the weekend’s best lap time of 42.268. He also finished 1st in his semi-final, qualifying directly for the final alongside team-mate Miguel Gayoso.
Come on board TN11 with David Méat for a few laps
Who is this young prodigy flying his TN5?
A revelation at the start of the season, the young Spanish driver Miguel Gayoso surprised many with his increasingly fast and precise pace in each round of the championship. Like his racing colleague David, he too had an almost perfect weekend. He came 3rd overall in the 3 qualifying heats, just behind David Méat and Vincent Priat, who is no ordinary driver, having been crowned French champion on several occasions. He proved his driving prowess in the semi-final, where he finished in 2nd place behind David, thus also qualifying for the grand final.
A half-hearted finale for LifeLive …
David and Miguel both start on the front row. Directly after a few turns, David found himself in 2nd place, closely followed by Miguel in 3rd. It was already a victory for the team, with 2 of its drivers already on the podium. But then came the bad luck… at the end of the second lap, on landing a small jump, Miguel broke his left rear axle, which spelled the end of the race for him. David was still in second place and even managed to catch up with his rival lap after lap, even attempting a few overtaking attacks, but unfortunately, on the last lap, the track was getting deeper and deeper, and he broke his right front wheel, making the car uncontrollable. He managed to reach the finish line, but only in 5th place.
It’s obviously not the result LifeLive had hoped for, but this race once again proved that the new TN11 is one of the best chassis around, and that David is the right man to put it in front. Once again, the spotlight shone on Miguel Gayoso, who showed that this TN5 still has the capacity to be at the front, and that he’s the driver to do it.
Bad luck is the word to sum up this weekend
The 2 LifeLive drivers were unlucky in the final, but the team’s 3rd official driver, Marcello Gallo, was particularly unlucky. The pace was a little more complicated for him aboard his TN11. He finished 14th overall in the 2 Timed Practices, was disqualified in the 1st heat for an overtaking move deemed too dangerous, and made a strong comeback in the 2nd heat, but a mechanical problem occurred on the last lap which cost him his advance. So he had to give it his all in the 3rd heat to come back up and try to qualify for the semi-final, where only the top 20 finishers from the 3 heats are selected. He did a great 3rd heat, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to qualify for the semi-finals. The weekend ends on a sour note for Marcello, but he’s motivated to go and prove that he can be at the front on August 26-27 in the Czech Republic.