Australian star Christian Mansell extended his podium tally to 13 for the year and narrowly missed out on victory during the latest Euroformula Open meeting of the season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria last weekend (10/11 September).
The 17-year-old, backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management, came off the back of another brace of podium finishes just a week prior at Imola, and looked to close the points deficit to his main championship rival on the visit to Austria.
A three-time race winner this season, Mansell had his eyes firmly set on the top step once more and after a solid start in practice, the CryptoTower Motopark driver battled for pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session and headed the second row of the grid with third position - just 0.1s adrift of the top spot.
The weather conditions throughout the day created a delayed start, but dry tarmac greeted Mansell and his rivals for the opening 21-lap encounter. Despite losing a spot on a frenetic first lap, after a safety car restart he quickly recovered that position with a great late-braking move on Vladimir Lomko heading into the second Remus corner.
The BRDC Rising Star and Motorsport UK Academy talent began his chase of the race leader and grabbed the fastest lap of the race but, with just four laps remaining and Mansell right on the tail of his man, a red flag waved to signal the end of the race prematurely after a confusing scenario over circuit curfew times, rain arriving and a marshall entering the circuit.
Second place was the end result to keep Mansell in the title chase and extend his cushion over second spot, but the former GB3 race winner knew he had the pace to go one better and lined up fifth on the grid for the second race the following morning. Mansell, supported by Dexcom, Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27, NTI Australia and AMSL Diabetes Australia, looked to make up ground and after passing Lomko at turn one, set his sights on third place but was eased wide down to fifth.
His fight with Frederick Lubin continued all race and Mansell made his move at the hairpin, only to be forced wide a corner later. It pushed the Aussie down to sixth, passing title rival Oliver Goethe with a well-judged cutback move heading into the Wurth left-hander to seal a finish of fifth place. Starting fourth for the final race, Mansell would lose a spot early on, adding another fifth place to his tally for more crucial points.
Christian Mansell: "Overall a mixed weekend for us, but we showed that we had great pace in the first two races and it feels a little bit like a win got away from us in race one.
"The car was really strong as the race went on and I felt confident under braking for the tighter corners which meant I could overtake, and that was just what we were about to do as we chased the leader in race one before the red flags came out. It is what it is, but it was a shame to end it in a confusing manner when the win was in sight.
"We kept our heads high and took up the fight all the way through Sunday but the battles didn't quite go in our favour. It maybe didn't quite represent our true pace, but the guys did a great job all weekend as they have done all year. We'll now get a short break after a busy month and come back fighting at Monza, which is a circuit I loved when I visited there for the first time last year."
Mansell has two more meetings remaining in his 2022 Euroformula Open campaign, the next and penultimate of those being at the iconic Monza circuit in Italy across the weekend of 24/25 September.
Image from Euroformula Open.