Kevin Mirocha mastered some difficult conditions at Brands Hatch to claim his maiden FIA Formula Two Championship win in the opening race of the weekend.
Pole-sitter and championship leader Luciano Bacheta got a dreadful launch on the wet circuit, allowing third-place starter Mirocha to squeeze between Bacheta and surprise front-row starter Max Snegirev and take the lead of the race.
Despite two safety car interruptions, the former GP2 racer pulled away from second-placed Matheo Tuscher to win with a margin of 5.6 seconds.
“This was just incredible,” said Mirocha afterwards.
“In the beginning it was like a never ending race in between I had 10 million thoughts going through my head so I just concentrated to push a bit more to really focus on the driving. I felt really strong and of course I had an amazing start. This was the key to be in front. It was really good.
“It was really good. In the beginning and at the start it was difficult because the tyres were cold. I had to avoid the two guys in front of me so I lost some speed. After that I just drove my line. With the safety car it was controlled. I was pushing at the beginning then I had the gap so I knew I just had to stay at my speed and everything will be fine.”
Bacheta dropped to fourth with his poor getaway, but got by Snegirev at Dingle Dell on lap two after the Russian got out of shape. He pressured Tuscher for second before dropping back again and settling for third place.
Tuscher was happy with the result.
“It was a great race,” said the 15-year-old. “I think it was a good set up but I had too much oversteer in each corner. Luciano was following me. When he made a small mistake I just had oversteer and went wide on the corner and I think that disturbed him too. I was pushing but it was difficult to go fast in these conditions. I’m pretty happy with this race. I started P4 and finished P2.”
Bacheta was of course upset with his start, but happy with the points he scored.
“I had a plan to pull away like normal to avoid wheel spin,” he said. “I went to release the clutch but it hadn’t reached the bite so I was just revving. I sat there wheel-spinning. It was the worst start of my life.
“I went into the first corner with the whole grid around me. After I realised I had Marinescu and Zanella on my left I realised I had a shocker of a start. I was quite aggressive in the first few corners and managed to get up to P4 into Druids. I was behind Max Snegirev and I could see he was oversteering quite a lot. I waited for him to make a mistake and managed to take him going into the chicane.
“I saw MathÃ©o but then couldn’t see a thing. He says the visibility was good but with the spray I literally couldn’t see anything. I wasn’t going to boost with the oversteer. I’m glad to get the points. It’s another good result.”
The safety car made its first appearance at the end of lap two, with David Zhu having hit the barrier at Graham Hill Bend. At the restart, Snegirev lost control before the start/finish line and with visibility poor in the spray, he was hit by Alex Fontana and then Kourosh Khani. That brought the safety car back out while all three cars were recovered.
Hector Hurst had started 12th and dropped even further back off the line, but then drove his way up the order and took fourth from Mihai Marinescu at Paddock Hill on lap 11, with the Romanian then running too deep at Druids and dropping behind Christopher Zanella.
Hurst was set for his best ever result until he ran off the road at Sheene, under pressure from Zanella. The Lymington driver kept it out of the barriers but dropped to seventh. Zanella failed to keep fourth, dropping behind both Marinescu and Markus Pommer (who had started last) before the finish.
Axcil Jefferies was eighth, with Mauro Calamia passing a struggling Daniel McKenzie for ninth. Plamen Kralev was the last home in tenth.
Dino Zamparelli joined those in retirement after going off out of ninth after dipping a wheel off the tarmac on the entry to Surtees.