Australian star Christian Mansell returned to Euroformula Open action and added another brace of podium finishes to his impressive tally at Imola last weekend (3/4 September) to keep himself still firmly in title contention.
The 17-year-old talent from Newcastle, New South Wales, recommenced his 2022 Euroformula Open campaign after a lengthy summer break for the series; during which Mansell enjoyed a double outing in FIA Formula 3 with Charouz Racing System as part of the Formula 1 support roster.
Backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management, Mansell entered the sixth meeting of the EF Open season at the three-mile San Marino circuit sitting second in the championship, hopeful of gaining ground in his quest for the title.
Friday was Mansell's first opportunity to gain knowledge of the circuit in his Motopark-backed CryptoTower Dallara 320, setting top-four pace throughout the day. He backed that up with third on the grid in a tense qualifying session, as he traded the top spot with his rivals in the closing minutes as the track rubbered in significantly.
The BRDC Rising Star and Motorsport UK Academy talent eyed more silverware from the second row of the grid in the first of the weekend's three races, and duly completed the task at hand by tucking into third spot heading into turn one, rounding out the podium as he managed his rear tyres to the chequered flag.
It was an 11th podium of the season for the former British F4 and GB3 race winner, and a fabulous start to Sunday's race put him in contention for a fourth win as he decisively dived inside both Josh Mason and Frederick Lubin at the Tamburello chicane. Unfortunately, the lightest of touches from the Mason's front wing cut a rear tyre on Mansell's car, forcing him to pit for a replacement. He emerged in seventh, but charged back and completed a recovery to fifth place with a last-lap pass.
Mansell, supported by Dexcom, Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27, NTI Australia and AMSL Diabetes Australia, had one final chance and started Sunday's last outing from fourth on the grid. A good start again him Mansell to climb a spot to third place by turn one, giving chase to the top two ahead. He quickly caught Lubin and started attacking for second spot after the halfway stage, ultimately proving successful on the penultimate lap by superbly lunging inside and toughing it out exiting the second chicane.
Christian Mansell: "Another new circuit for me, and it's been a great experience to race around Imola. After a couple of new experiences in FIA F3, we quickly got back into the swing of things once we hit the track on Friday. In qualifying we were well in the mix all the way through and the track really got faster as it went on. We came close, but it was a sign we had good speed for the races.
"The first race had a good ending with another podium finish to keep us ticking on getting the points we needed, although it was tough in the final half of the race as the rear tyres started to go away from us. We had a really tough break in the next race with the puncture after taking the dive for the lead which so nearly went to plan, but we got our heads down for race three and gave it everything to find a way through, which we managed with a bit of bravery!
"More good points and another quick turnaround, so I'm happy with our performance and hopefully we can come back strongly this weekend in Austria."
Another solid points haul keeps the Motopark driver second in the Drivers' Championship, as Mansell next travels to the Red Bull Ring in Austria this coming weekend (10/11 September) for the next three races of the season.
Image from Euroformula Open.