Handsaeme wins Academy despite penalty at Portimao
There was a new winner in the Academy Trophy in Belgium’s Xavier Handsaeme but Britain’s Callum Bradshaw retains the lead with one round remaining.
The weather was slightly cooler on Saturday morning at the Portimao circuit. Unlike the Juniors, the Academy were eager to complete the most laps possible during their qualifying session. Xavier Handsaeme (BEL) dominated the first session, finishing in a time of 58.504s ahead of Alfred Nilsson (SWE) and Emil Heyerdahl (NOR). Very fast yesterday, Thomas Imbourg (FRA) was 7th 0.683s from pole while Oliver Clarke (GBR) wasn’t credited with a time after he was the victim of a collision on the first lap.
Callum Bradshaw (GBR) long occupied the top of the second session after being rather quiet during free practice. He finished with a time of 58.718s (3rd overall), ahead of Ruben Sabater (ESP), Kasparas Vaskelis (LTU), Alvis Ang (GSP) and Luke Füngeling (DEU).
With two race wins, Handsaeme retained the lead of the Academy ahead of a formidable opponent, who also leads the classification of the Trophy, Bradshaw. Nilsson and Heyerdahl follow in 3rd and 4th positions while Ang was in a nice 5th place.
Heyerdahl in 3rd and Ang in 5th crashed on the formation lap of the Prefinal and couldn’t start. Handsaeme and Nilsson were in control on the first lap ahead of Sabater and Bradshaw. There was a great recovery in 7th position for Maciej Szyszko (POL), Imbourg moved up to 9th and Thomas Mialane (FRA) 10th. Bradshaw slowly closed on the leader halfway through, Nilsson took 3rd position from Sabater, Vaskelis 5th and Mads Hansen Eielso (DNK) 6th. Jagger Jones (USA) made a big gain of 13 positions to 15th. Bradshaw attacked Handsaeme on the penultimate lap and resisted the young Belgian.
Vaskelis clearly took the lead at the lights of the Academy Trophy Final while Bradshaw lost places and dropped to 7th on lap 2. Handsaeme recovered 2nd place, but was the subject of investigation for a possible premature move out of his lane. Sabater was in 3rd position ahead of Imbourg, after a good start, and Bradshaw moved up to 5th. Handsaeme seized control on lap 7, while Sabater, hitherto quiet in 3rd position, saw Bradshaw gradually approach. The attack took place shortly after halfway. Handsaeme then escaped clearly ahead of Vaskelis, pursued by Bradshaw who seized 2nd place with two laps to go. Handsaeme won by 3.2s ahead of Bradshaw, which ensured him victory despite his penalty of 3s, with Vaskelis 3rd, Sabater 4th and Nilsson 5th.