Luciano Bacheta pulled off a superb victory in the opening round of the FIA Formula 2 season at Silverstone on Saturday, the Briton passing Switzerland's Christopher Zanella with just over a lap of the race remaining.
Bacheta, who qualified second, dropped to fourth at the start as third-placed qualifier Zanella leapt into the lead, ahead of surprise poleman Matheo Tuscher. Tuscher's opening lap went from bad to worse as he ran wide at Becketts, allowing Mihai Marinescu into second, and Bacheta up to third, as Tuscher rejoined behind Alex Fontana in fifth.
Zanella pulled out an impressive 2.3-second lead by the conclusion of the first lap, and he hammered in some impressive times early on, but Marinescu soon began to reel him in and was within half a second of the leader by lap eight.
Marinescu was using his overboost at this point as he closed the gap, the system being altered for 2012 to mimic the Formula 1-style DRS system in that it can only be used when the car behind is within 1s of the one in front at two strategically-placed detection zones.
Zanella held firm up front, however, and it was Marinescu who started to lose pace in the second half of the race, with Bacheta taking advantage as they lapped Samuele Buttarelli's ailing car to get a run on Marinescu on the Wellington Straight. Although Marinescu defended sternly, Bacheta took second place at Brooklands, and set off in chase of Zanella with six laps remaining.
Bacheta cruised up to the tail of Marinescu, and pounced into Brooklands on the penultimate lap: "It was my final boost," admitted Bacheta, who went on to win by just under a second. Zanella's attempts to respond on the final tour - as race-long leader he had boosts to spare - were thwarted as he claimed the boost system failed to operate.
Fontana finished third, as Marinescu slid onto the marbles at Brooklands and surrendered the final podium position on the last lap. Daniel McKenzie took fifth, but only after long-time nemesis Dino Zamparelli suffered gearbox problems in the final laps. He eventually became stuck in sixth gear, and trailed home ninth.
Poleman Tuscher slipped back to sixth after a spin at Brooklands while lunging over-ambitiously past Fontana. Hector Hurst was seventh, ahead of Markus Pommer, who surged through from last on the grid after his qualifying shunt.
Pos Driver Time/Gap 1. Luciano Bacheta 38m35.237s 2. Christopher Zanella + 0.912s 3. Alex Fontana + 5.267s 4. Mihai Marinescu + 6.154s 5. Daniel McKenzie + 6.240s 6. Matheo Tuscher + 13.249s 7. Hector Hurst + 15.089s 8. Markus Pommer + 15.433s 9. Dino Zamparelli + 16.215s 10. Kourosh Khani + 19.231s 11. David Zhu + 23.958s 12. Kevin Mirocha + 29.686s 13. Jose Luis Abadin + 30.807s 14. Mauro Calamia + 31.166s 15. Plamen Kralev + 40.140s 16. Parthiva Sureshwaren + 45.832s Retirements: Samuele Buttarelli 13 laps
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