Marrakech Auto GP: Bacheta wins chaotic reversed-grid race
Reigning Formula 2 champion Luciano Bacheta claimed victory in a delayed and crash-strewn reversed grid Auto GP race in Marrakech
Over half the field was eliminated in accidents, but polesitter Bacheta kept a level head and avoided contact in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Andrea Roda to take his maiden Auto GP win.
Roda exercised caution in his duel with Bacheta, but was called in to serve a drive-through penalty for his part in a race-ending collision with early leader Antonio Spavone.
The runner-up position would fall to Spavone's Super Nova team-mate Vittorio Ghirelli, who produced a commendable climb up the order from ninth on the grid.
Kimiya Sato outbraked Robert Visoiu for fourth place at the final hairpin six laps from home, and the Euronova driver was promoted to the final place on the podium following the imposition of Roda's penalty.
Bacheta executed a flawless getaway from pole, but second and third starters Roda and former Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan bogged down to bunch up the field on the approach to Turn 1.
A concertina caused a multi-car melee in which Guiseppe Cipriani and Riccardo Agostini retired on the spot.
Marrakech race-one victor Sergio Campana received suspension damage in the big squeeze, and would retire in the pitlane at the conclusion of the lap, while early season championship rival Kimiya Sato survived a clattering of wheels.
There was further destruction of Lola components later in the lap when Saturday's race one runner-up Daniel de Jong attacked Karthikeyan, clouted the rear of the Indian's Zele car and ended the day's action for both men.
Spavone would pit for his mandatory tyre change on lap three, and the decision would pay dividends when a safety car was subsequently called out to retrieve various abandoned machinery from dangerous positions.
A mass pitstop under safety-car conditions ensued, allowing Spavone to move to the head of the queue. Bacheta suffered a slow pitstop, and exited the pits third on the road behind Virtuosi UK racer Roda.
Spavone extended a small gap when the race went green on lap nine, only to lose his advantage on the following tour when a tangle between Meindert van Buuren and Michele La Rosa at Turn 1 brought out yellow flags and forced the leader to slow.
An opportunistic Roda closed in, but the pair would clash wheels when braking into the chicane ahead of the long Turn 6 left-hander, spearing the unfortunate Spavone into the concrete retaining barrier.
Roda survived the touch, but was perhaps circumspect in the next sequence of corners, allowing Bacheta to stage a successful bid for the lead.
Max Snegirev made an early pit call on his way to fifth, ahead of van Buuren, who was involved in a long tussle with Yoshitaka Kuroda in the closing laps.
Sato leads the drivers' standings on 66 points, four clear of double 2013 victor Sergio Campana. Bacheta's win moves the Essex driver into third place on 43 points.
Results - 19 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Luciano Bacheta Zele 32m29.963s 2. Vittorio Ghirelli Supernova + 1.921s 3. Kimiya Sato Euronova + 2.779s 4. Robert Visoiu Ghinzani + 4.482s 5. Maxim Snegirev Virtuosi UK + 10.804s 6. Meindert van Buuren Manor MP + 12.047s 7. Andrea Roda Virtuosi UK + 18.276s 8. Yoshitaka Kuroda Euronova + 2 laps 9. Antonio Spavone Supernova + 9 laps 10. Michele La Rosa MLR 71 + 10 laps Retirements: Narain Karthikeyan Zele 0 laps R.Agostini Manor MP 0 laps Daniel de Jong Manor MP 0 laps Sergio Campana Ibiza 0 laps G.Cipriani Ibiza 0 laps
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