Christian Mansell has kept himself in Euroformula Open Championship title contention with a spectacular third victory of his 2022 campaign last weekend (09/10 July) at the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest.
The 17-year-old Australian racer from Newcastle, New South Wales, headed to Hungary looking to add to the eight podiums already to his name in his maiden EuroFormula Open campaign.
Backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management, Mansell again showed consistent top-three pace in Friday's free practice sessions and turned his attentions to unlocking more speed in his Motopark-backed CryptoTower Dallara 320 ahead of qualifying.
The BRDC Rising Star and Motorsport UK Academy talent returned to the Budapest circuit in scorching temperatures on Saturday morning looking to fight for pole position. A strong effort early on in qualifying was enough to again place himself inside the top three but, despite only being half a second away from pole, Mansell ultimately had to settle for sixth place on the grid for race one later that afternoon.
The former GB3 and British F4 race winner rolled his sleeves up knowing passing would be difficult around the notoriously tight and technical 2.7-mile circuit, and kept up his trend of making lightning starts by leaping two spots by braving it out under braking for the first two bends in the opening race. Despite gapping those behind him, Mansell could not quite find his way onto the podium after a frenetic first few laps, coming home fourth by the chequered flag.
Mansell, supported by Dexcom, Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27, NTI Australia and AMSL Diabetes Australia, had his chance to claim silverware the following day and started race two from a more encouraging third place.
Another good start moved him up to second and instantly in the slipstream of his CryptoTower team-mate Josh Mason heading down towards turn one, jinking to the outside and briefly nosing ahead of the British driver under braking for the tight right-hander. He would be squeezed out wide, before setting the fastest lap of the race in pursuit of his team-mate in the opening laps.
Fighting a loose rear end giving him oversteer in the second half of the race, the young Aussie found himself defending from a chasing duo of cars. They had wide moments of their own in their attacks though, which gave Mansell the breathing space he needed in the final laps to hold on to claim second.
Securing fastest lap would offer further reward for Mansell in the form of pole position for race three, based on drivers' quickest laps from the second outing. It would be the stepping stone to a superb finish to the weekend, as Mansell charged into the early lead ahead of title rival Oliver Goethe.
What followed would be a determined defence from the front as he rebuffed Goethe's attacks at the tight first corner on numerous occasions, not allowing his fellow competitor to sneak by. Francesco Simonazzi joined the fight and split the pair late on at turn two, but Mansell held off both for a fantastic third win of the season alongside his Estoril and Paul Ricard triumphs.
Christian Mansell:"What a way to finish the weekend! I wasn't going to give up in either of Sunday's races. We probably didn't have the fastest car out there on ultimate pace, but we managed to make it work.
"The last race was one of the longest I've had in my life. I defended when I needed to, and overall I'm really happy with how it went. I think intense is putting it mildly as it was nuts. The action inside the cockpit - I've never felt so giddy and pumped up with adrenaline. I was not going to lose that race.
"It's been so hot here all weekend so it's been a hard one, but we just ticked along and kept finding improvements so after race two I was happy with how we were, and it ended in the perfect way. We've got a bit of a break now, but I'm already looking forward to Imola which is an amazing circuit. It should be good fun, and we'll keep pushing."
Another impressive points haul keeps the Motopark driver second in the Drivers' Championship as Mansell next travels to San Marino over the weekend of 03/04 September for three races around the famous Imola circuit.
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.