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To attend the CIK-FIA U18 championship halftime, the Mach1 Motorsport team travelled toEssay,France. The four drivers of the chassis manufacturer showed a remarkable performance on theNormandytrack and placed within the top ten drivers of the world.
Consisting of long linear slopes, fast turns and narrow passages, the 1.220m track offered all aspects of a modern construction and required utmost concentration on the drivers’ sides. Additionally, low road grip and occasional rain led to difficult circumstances. The Mach1 quartet had no difficulties though and already belonged to the best in the field of 70 drivers during Friday morning’s free trainings.
In the end, Martin Mortensen turned out to be the fastest driver of the weekend. During qualifying, the young Dane placed the great seventh position and was also able to drive in the front fields of all four Heats, resulting in the ninth starting position of the first pre-final. In this, he drove in the top field right from the beginning. He got slowed down due to numerous duels though and finally came in 9th again. As usual, the second pre-final started in reversed order. Now at the back of the field, Martin was able to gain a couple of positions during the first laps and made his way to 11th position. A racing collision caused him to drive off the track momentarily though and resulted in the 25th place when the checkered flag came down. For this reason, the up and coming talent started from the 17th position in the finals. He showed his best side again during the 19 laps and fought his way to the 10th position in a focused and faultless race. This made him the best placed Danish driver of the U18 championship in the end.
The only German driver of the championship, Lukas Speck, experienced a weekend of ups and downs. He got slowed down again and again due to numerous engine problems. Nonetheless, he did not give up and was able to satisfy in the end. Qualifying began with a setback though. The electric start of his CIK-FIA unified motor quit his service and Lukas was only able to drive three fast laps. This resulted in the mere 51st place, making him start the Heats from a really bad position. Due to four solid races and great catch-up races, the Rhinelander was able to limit the damage and accomplished to qualify for the finals, coming in 29th. Prior to the start of the first pre-final, Lukas criticized the power of his engine though and thus didn’t think he had good chances of improving his performance. Additionally, the starter caused problems again and Lukas had to race after the other drivers with half a lap deficit. Despite the lacking performance of his engine, he was able to close the gap on his competition and came in 25th. For the second pre-final, he received a CIK-FIA substitute engine and started the race highly motivated. A collision at the start caused a flat tire though and Lukas had to prematurely forfeit. He had to start the final race from the 30th position due to these prior bad results. This time everything went well though and he was able to show his potential by coming in 14th.
After his great performance at the kick-off event in Italy, the other Dane, Jannick Flygenring, wasn’t really able to gather momentum this time and after rather difficult Heats only managed to qualify as 34th driver for the final phase. Even additional changes to the engine setup did not lead to the hoped for improvement and during the first pre-final he even had to prematurely forfeit the race due to a technical defect. The second pre-final brought a trend reversal though. Starting from pole position he had to let a couple of drivers pass him by, but was able to collect solid points coming in 6th and secured 19th starting position for the final race. During this, he also had to quarrel with the power of his engine and was curiously half a second slower than his teammates throughout the entire final. A catch-up race was therefore quite difficult and Jannick only came in 21st.
The youngest of the Mach1 quartet, Nicolai Nielsen, managed to achieve the promising 31st place during qualifying. However, numerous racing accidents and a dropout during the Heats caused him to just barely miss the finals and he was only allowed to start in the “small finals”. During these he was at least able to gain important racing experiences and managed to fight his way up to 21st position.
Team leader Martin Hetschel was pleased with his protégés’ performances and was in good spirits on Sunday evening: “We’ve once again proven the potential of our chassis on a difficult track and during challenging circumstances. Unfortunately, the quality of our unified engines was very low. Huge performance differences and technical difficulties led to misaligned results in the end. Apart from that we’ve once again experienced a great racing weekend and are now looking forward to the finale.”
This will take place on the first weekend of November inSarno,Italy. After the cancellation of the race inBahrainthe CIK-FIA presented the high-speed track inItalyas their alternative venue last week.