Christian Mansell kicked off his 2022 Euroformula Open championship challenge in the best manner possible, taking a dominant victory in the season opener at Estoril last weekend (30 April/1 May).
The Australian youngster - who entered three Euroformula Open rounds last season in between his GB3 Championship commitments - embarks on his first full season in the international single-seater series looking to make his mark with front-running team, CryptoTower Racing.
After showing competitive pace throughout both testing and free practice in the run-up to the race weekend, BRDC Rising Star Mansell, backed by AJM Transport, Castrol, Vawdrey Trailers, VISA Global Logistics and Infinity Sports Management, topped much of the first half of Saturday morning’s crucial qualifying session to decide the grid for the first of three races. Times dropped in the closing stages, Mansell recovering with a final effort good enough for third place, narrowly missing out on the front row in a tight session.
Looking to make up the ground in the first race later that afternoon, Mansell’s chance opened up beautifully for him when the lights went out. A stall from his CryptoTower team-mate Josh Mason ahead of him and a great start himself launched the Newcastle-based Motorsport UK Academy driver into an early lead, ending lap one with a comfortable advantage.
Negotiating an early safety car period, that lead cushion continued to grow as the laps ticked down, with Mansell bringing home a sensational maiden Euroformula Open victory for himself to open his account in style, winning by 3.2 seconds.
Riding the highs of his first triumph, the 17-year-old was given the task of recovering from a sixth place starting spot as a result of the reversed grid for race two the following day.
Supported by Dexcom, Rush Performance, IOR Petroleum, Locker 27 and AMSL Diabetes Australia, Mansell's lightning getaway from the third row of the grid was enough to bolt him up into fourth place by turn one. He held that position until an optimistic lunge at the Gancho hairpin from Francesco Simonazzi forced him out wide, pushing him down to an unrepresentative eighth place final finishing position.
Fastest laps decided the final race's grid, putting Mansell up onto the second row in fourth sport. Another great launch when the lights went out meant Mansell made early gains, taking third spot with the leaders well within range to attack. A brave defensive effort ensured he held off Oliver Goethe throughout the whole 20-lap contest, chasing the two lead cars ahead of him all the way to the chequered flag as he claimed a second podium finish to start his season in promising style.
The results leave Mansell sitting pretty in the top four in the Drivers' Championship, just 11 points away from the overall series lead in what looks set to be a competitive season ahead.
Christian Mansell:"Overall, a pretty solid start to the season for us, and what better to start the year with a win!
"The track felt pretty good and throughout testing and qualifying the team gave me a good car. We were in the fight for pole but just missed out in the end, but my starts were really good all weekend and that helped me.
"The car felt mint throughout the first race, and it made it easier for me once we were out front. It's fantastic to get that first win under our belts and it gives you confidence for a good season.
"We struggled a bit with the car in the second race which wasn't ideal, but we got a bit back later on and to end it with another podium was a nice result to round out the weekend. We've got the speed, so I'm already looking forward to seeing what we can do at Pau next."
Mansell is back out on track within a week as he looks to challenge for victory on the spectacular streets of France in the Pau GP next Sunday (8 May).
Image from Euroformula Open.