Ukraine and Australia win first gold medals at FIA Motorsport Games
Five of the six categories contesting this year’s inaugural FIA Motorsport Games staged their first races on the second day of competition at Vallelunga where the first two gold medals – in the Drift and Digital Cups – were also awarded.
Ukraine and Australia jointly lead the medal table at this early stage courtesy of their gold medals, but all that could change on Sunday when GT Cup, Touring Car Cup, Formula 4 Cup and Karting Slalom Cup champions are crowned.
DRIFTING CUP – GOLD: UKRAINE | SILVER: CZECH REP | BRONZE: RUSSIA
Dmitriy Illyuk of Ukraine secured the first gold medal at the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games by clinching victory in this evening’s Drifting Cup contest. Driving a Nissan 200SX, Illyuk defeated Michal Reichert (BMW M3 E92) in the final battle to ensure his nation took the spoils at Vallelunga.
Russia left with the bronze medal thanks to Ilia Fedorov (Nissan Silvia S14), who beat Federico Sceriffo (Toyota GT 86) after the Italian made contact with his rival and sent him into the gravel just moments into their battle.
The Top 16 contest played out under the floodlights at Vallelunga and culminated in the event’s first podium ceremony taking place following three hours of competition.
DIGITAL CUP – GOLD: AUSTRALIA | SILVER: COSTA RICA | BRONZE: ITALY
Cody Nikola Latkovski has won the first-ever FIA Motorsport Games Digital Cup gold medal after defeating 11 other world-class drivers in the final held at a virtual Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this evening.
The Australian beat fellow FIA-certified Gran Turismo World Championship regular Bernal Valverde who claimed silver for Costa Rica, while local ace Stefano Conte bagged bronze for the host nation, Italy.
The action kicked off with the semi-finals, which were followed by a repechage heat and Grand Final that determined the medallists.
Team Germany prevailed in a topsy-turvy first GT Cup contest that saw several of the early favourites hit problems. Japan started Race 1 from pole and led early on before Russia benefited from the arrival of rain to seize the advantage ahead of a mid-race red flag.
Switching to wets would prove costly for Russia as the slick-shod Team Denmark car of Christina Nielsen charged to the front, followed by Alfred Renauer in the German-liveried Porsche. After applying pressure for several laps he completed a race-winning pass with 10 minutes left on the clock. Nielsen held on to second for Denmark while a 30s post-race penalty for Belgium elevated Poland to third.
The second race gets underway Sunday at 09.30 with Japan again starting from pole, followed by the medal showdown at 15.15.
TOURING CAR CUP
Klim Gavrilov made the perfect start to Team Russia’s Touring Car Cup assault by claiming a comfortable victory and maximum 25 points in Race 1.
The regulation lights-to-flag win by five seconds from Mato Homola (Slovakia) was in stark contrast to the battle raging behind where Gilles Magnus’ bold moves helped the Belgian rise from sixth to third by the finish.
However, unlike the other categories in this year’s FIA Motorsport Games, today’s race results have no bearing on Sunday’s starting grid. Instead, it’s Magnus who shares the front row with Gavrilov after the pair finished first and second in Q2. Combining points scored across both races – the second of which carries a maximum of 30 points – will determine which driver and nation wins Touring Car Cup gold tomorrow.
FORMULA 4 CUP
Andrea Rosso’s two-second post-race penalty handed Israel’s Ido Cohen victory in Formula 4 Cup’s Qualifying Race at Vallelunga this morning.
Italy’s Rosso crossed the line first after winning a highly entertaining encounter at Vallelunga but was subsequently adjudged to have overtaken Cohen under yellow flags. He retains his place on the Main Race front row, albeit now behind his Italian F4 Championship rival.
Rosso started second and slipped to third before working his way to the front and finally passing long-time leader Niklas Kruetten on the penultimate lap.
KARTING SLALOM CUP
Eight teams each comprising two drivers will battle for Karting Slalom Cup gold tomorrow after 20 National Sporting Authorities (ASNs) were eliminated during today’s qualifying session and top-16 shootout, which took place on two specially constructed layouts at Vallelunga.
Germany’s Janina Burkard and Florian Benedik progressed with the fastest combined time of all – a 3m19.256s featuring just one 2s penalty – after comfortably beating Slovakia in their last-16 match-up. They now face slowest qualifiers, Portugal, in the first of tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Russia’s Olesia Vashchuk and Vladislav Bushu were just 4.1s shy of the Germans after also incurring two faults in their battle against Kuwait. They will go head-to-head with Croatia who squeezed past home favourites Italy by just 4s.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Belarus and Austria complete the list of quarter-finalists.
Fifth place for Team UK in Race-1 at Vallelunga
Team UK, crewed by Flick Haigh and Christopher Froggatt, posted the best Ferrari finish, claiming fifth place at the end of the first GT Cup race at Vallelunga, part of the 2019 FIA Motorsport Games. In a race marked by variable weather conditions and a lengthy mid-race interruption, the crews handling the 488 GT3 machinery, fell victim to a combination of strategic errors and plain bad luck.
The track had initially been dry when the sixty minute-race officially got underway, but rainfall was to soon appear on the track near Rome. An accident at the rear of the field saw the Kuwait team excluded from the race, forcing a first-lap Safety Car incursion, with Russian driver Salikhov holding fourth place ahead of Ferriol in the U.S. team’s 488 GT3.
With the track again race-worthy ten minutes later, the action re-started with a very aggressive Salikhov hounding Miguel Ramos, whom he managed to pass, before likewise overhauling Turkish driver Salih Yoluk, then immediately going on the hunt for the Japanese team’s race-leading Lamborghini, driven by Hiroshi Hamaguchi. Roda, mid-group after making contact with the German team car, was forced to take to the grass to avoid hitting the Portuguese vehicle which had come to a halt in the middle of the track after a brutal collision with the barriers. In spite of the inconvenience, the adept Gianluca Roda managed to pull back behind the American team in contention for fifth place. Once again, the prowess of Roda led to the American Ferrari spinning off, before taking a spin himself, this time due to heavier rain, with forty minutes of racing still left on the clock. Capitalising on a mistake by Yamaguchi, Salikhov took the lead on the seventh lap. The Safety Car once again received the call-out, this time to allow the recovery of several cars which had gone off-track, with 38 minutes still left to run.
Russia was now holding the lead ahead of Turkey and Japan. Team Italy’s 488 GT3 was lying in ninth position, while eleventh and twelfth place belonged to Belarus and Great Britain. The American car then dropped a lap, forced to re-pit for a tyre change and a quick repair, with 34 minutes to go, when the red flag came out. Driver-swaps were allowed during this phase, and with the rain having stopped, some crews opted to change back to slicks. Team Russia, going against the trend, kept to the wet tyres.
The action re-commenced with 24 minutes remaining, but a few laps later the Italian squad received a communication obliging a drive-through for two avoidable contacts in the early stages of the race. On rain tyres, but on an increasingly drier track, Russian driver Denis Bulatov was struggling to fend off the challenges from the crews with slicks, gradually slipping down the race order. The British team, with Chris Froggatt at the controls, on the contrary, was on an upsurge, clawing his way to fifth place, imitated by Belarus’ Alexander Talkanitsa Jr in ninth. Without further major upheavals, the race finished with the first of the Ferrari bunch – the British team – in fifth place, followed by the 488 GT3 for Belarus. Ninth place went to the Italian Roda family crew, while the Russian pairing posted twelfth after the decision to stay on wets failed to pay off. After contact in the early stages of the race, the Ferrari of the American squad finished the day in sixteenth position.
Action from the remaining four categories counting towards the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games will be streamed live on the event’s website and Facebook page, as well as fia.com, on Sunday.