Team UK strike gold on action-packed Saturday at FIA Motorsport Games
Team UK claimed a first-ever Gold medal, plus a further Bronze, on an action-packed day across all 10 disciplines at the 2022 FIA Motorsport Games.
Having dominated the Esports event thus far, James Baldwin built on his qualifying and quarter-final success with a similar storm to victory in the semi-final to advance to the main event, the 60-strong field whittled down to just 20 competitors.
On board his McLaren 720S, Baldwin was kept honest throughout the contest by his nearest rivals, Chris Harteveld (Netherlands) and Alberto Garcia Gomez of Spain, but held firm to win by 2.9 seconds and become the first ever British athlete to win a Gold medal at the FIA Motorsport Games.
Baldwin, who crossed the line cheered by his fellow team members, was then presented with his medal on the podium by 11-time Formula 1 ® Grand Prix winner, Felipe Massa.
“Wow, what a day,” exclaimed Baldwin after stepping from the podium. “I’m over the moon to bring back the Gold medal for Team UK at the FIA Motorsport Games.
“It was such an intense final race; I feel knackered now. Assetto Corsa Competizione is my favourite game, so it was really good to race on that. I hope to come back in the future.
“A huge thanks to everybody at Team UK, it’s been a fantastic event and I’ve really felt the support.”
Baldwin’s success built on an earlier Bronze medal for Team UK’s GT pairing of Ian Loggie and Sam Neary, the pair steering their Mercedes-AMG GT3 challenger to third in a hectic race.
After a steady start, Loggie handed over the reins in the pits to Neary with the team sitting sixth. The 21-year-old, in as a late substitute for unwell captain Chris Froggatt, stormed through the field to the final spot on the podium to spark celebrations on the RAM Racing pit wall.
“I’m absolutely over the moon to win the bronze medal for Team UK,” exclaimed Neary. “Ian had a mega stint and we were able to bring it home from there. A huge thanks to the entire team, what a whirlwind of a few days it’s been!”
Elsewhere, Team UK’s chosen athletes put in a stellar performance in a wide range of disciplines across the sport.
Martin Richards was unfortunate not to advance beyond the last 16 in Drifting, with a third run needed to settle his tie against Estonia’s Kevin Pesur. A slight error with Richards as chase was enough to settle the contest in the judges’ eyes.
There was a similar story of heartbreak in Kart Endurance, as Titan Motorsport’s quartet of Jack O’Neill, Rhianna Purcocks, Owen Jenman and Mike Philippou rounding out the top five.
Having stormed into a comfortable lead after the first round of pit stops, the team were hit with a penalty, then suffered further misfortune as an exhaust manifold cracked on their kart, forcing another stop to switch machinery.
Despite the setbacks, they soldiered on and brought home fifth place, a stellar effort given the circumstances.
Saturday also marked the end of action in both the Historic Rally and Rally2 disciplines. Brothers Steve and Tim Jones steered their Chrysler Sunbeam to fifth place overall, with Oliver Mellors and Ian Windress tenth in the latter.
Mark King and Laura Christmas progressed as far as the last 16 in Auto Slalom, and went down with a battling performance versus Israel. On time, the duo were seventh quickest, but the knockout format pitted them against a higher-ranking nation.
The contest went down to the wire, and the eventual winning margin was a mere 3.1 seconds across the eight runs.
Dan Rooke’s CrossCar Senior campaign came to an unfortunate end. Having already heroically worked to replace his engine the previous day, the team were forced to withdraw after the spare engine also failed during the morning warm-up.
In the Junior category, Corey Padgett finished eighth in the Final, rounding out a competitive weekend for the youngster against a number of the category’s rising stars.
Touring Car action rounds out a packed programme for Team UK. Chris Smiley steered his Honda Civic Type R FK8 to an eighth row starting slot for the Qualifying Race on Sunday.