British driver Luciano Bacheta scored his first FIA Formula Two Championship victory after taking the lead with just over a lap to go in an exciting opening race of the season.
Rookie Matheo Tuscher began from pole position, but it was third-place starter Christopher Zanella who got the best opening lap, taking Bacheta and Tuscher to move into a huge two second lead by the time they crossed the start/finish line.
Tuscher ran wide at Becketts and fell to fifth, with Mihai Marinescu inheriting second place ahead of Bacheta and Alex Fontana. Tuscher got back ahead of fellow Swiss driver Fontana for fourth on lap sixth, but promptly spun and fell down to seventh place.
Marinescu began taking chunks out of Zanella's lead, setting the fastest lap on lap eight and closing the gap to the leader to 0.6 seconds. He took another two tenths on the following lap, but that would be as close at the Romanian would get to the lead of the race.
He began dropping back again from Zanella as he came under increasing pressure from Bacheta. Bacheta took second place from Marinescu at the end of lap 15, and then began closing in on race leader Zanella.
Bacheta had the gap down to just two tenths on lap 17, but although it opened up again slightly on the following lap he regained the ground to make the pass for the lead thorough the complex at the end of the penultimate lap. Bacheta held on to win by nine tenths ahead of Zanella and make a winning start to his first full F2 campaign.
“My heart sank when I had that start, because I dropped down to fourth by the first corner which I wasn’t very happy with,” said Bacheta in the post-race press conference.
“I stayed out of trouble and started to get into the rhythm of the race, as we were stepping into the unknown in the first race of the year without many long runs in practice. I knew it would be easier to overtake when the tyres were falling away towards the end. I would have been happy with third in the first race of the year, but I saw myself starting to catch the guys in front, so just waited and tried to force them into a mistake.”
Fontana reeled in Marinescu and took the third and final podium spot at Woodcote just before the line, with Marinescu only just holding on ahead of Daniel McKenzie, with less than a tenth between them at the line.
Dino Zamparelli had been running in fifth place for much of the race on his F2 debut, but a broken alternator with two laps to go meant that he fell down to ninth. Tuscher claimed sixth, with Hector Hurst finishing up as the best of the Formula Renault BARC graduates in seventh.
Markus Pommer recovered after starting at the back of the grid having spun out early on in qualifying this morning. He took eighth ahead of Zamparelli, with another ex-Formula Renault BARC racer Kourosh Khani claiming the final point in tenth.