Motorsport Games: Claire Schönborn sweeps Auto Slalom, Dorcikova takes silver after injury
Germany swept both the Karting and Auto Slalom competitions at the FIA Motorsport games, with Claire Schönborn putting in impressive runs to win gold alongside Marcel Hellberg. Slovak racer Michaela Dorcikova returned behind the wheel after a back-breaking injury and took silver, while Irine Onashvili secured Georgia's first medal in the games.
The slalom disciplines at the FIA Motorsport Games expanded to include cars, after karting slalom was introduced in the first ever edition in 2019 in Vallelunga, Italy.
At Circuit Paul Ricard, the technical Auto Slalom competition featured 25 nations in a unique challenge that saw Opel Corsa-e Rally vehicles taking on the tight twists and direction changes to battle for the final medals assigned in the 2022 Games.
Each represented nation featured a team of a male and female driver, who alternated behind the wheel of the electric cars with 260 Nm of torque - with some very interesting drivers line ups: among them a few well known names in motor racing such as Michaela Dorcikova - ARC Bratislava's team manager and a racing driver herself with experience of both racetrack and rallying; as well as driver/engineer Claire Schönborn, Laura Christmas, Kattlyyn Magno, Lyssia Baudet.
Dorcikova, a popular figure of endurance racing paddocks, had just recovered from a back-breaking rally accident sustained two months ago, which made her presence at the Motorsport Games representing her country Slovakia even more impressive.
Germany's Schönborn, a racing driver with experience of hillclimb, made her one of the early favourites, as she shared the wheel with Marcel Hellberg.
Britain's rally hopeful Laura Christmas was also among the most anticipated, as well as Belgium's Baudet, who raced both on track and in rallying and was part of the Belgian federation's selection for female drivers earlier this year. Brazil's representative Kattlyyn 'Kaka' Magno also stood out on the entry list, having raced in the Italian Prototype championship and recently tested EuroNASCAR machinery.
The action on the temporary-built course in the paddock of Circuit Paul Ricard started on Friday: Claire Schönborn set the early pace with the fastest run overall, but a few penalties for hitting cones from her teammate demoted Germany behind the Hungarian duo of Tunde Deak and Martin Bognar and the impressive Georgian team of Irine Onashvili and Mevludi Meladze.
In the second run, the two German drivers had clean penalty-free runs and rounded out the day on top of the timings. Not far behind, though, Hungary, Latvia (Maijna Stakena/Toms Ozols) and Slovakia's Dorcikova/Nemcek showed that they were ready to put on a fight as 16 teams qualified for the next round.
Unfortunately for Brazil, Kaka Magno and Bruno Pierozan were P17, one second away from qualification.
Schönborn's precision made the trick also in the next rounds, as her quick teammate picked up a few penalties; Germany came out on top of Peru and Czech Republic, while on the other side of the table Slovakia was also sweeping the competition by beating Poland and Israel.
In the semi finals, Germany went up against Irine Onashvili and Mevludi Meladze of Georgia - and a few cone strikes by the latter cost a 50 second gap to the German duo.
Michaela Dorcikova and her teammate David Nemcek won against Croatia's Iva and Nanad Damarija, securing the second spot in the final, after a great first run by the former EuroNASCAR Slovak female racer.
Onashvili and Meladze brought Georgia its first medal in the Games in the Small Final, overcoming Croatia by 8.5 seconds.
The race that assigned the last gold medal saw Germany up against Slovakia: Claire Schönborn built a small gap in her first run , before her teammate Marcel Hellberg cemented the win for Germany, who dominated both the kating and auto slalom competitions.
Schönborn, Dorcikova - at her return behind the wheel after the injury - and Onashvili were therefore the seventh, eighth and ninth women medalists in the 2022 edition of the FIA Motorsport Games.