Luciano Bacheta enjoyed a strong opening to his 2015 season, finishing on the podium in the brand new Renault Sport Trophy at Spa Francorchamps.
The Pro-Am series for “Elite” and “Prestige” drivers had one sprint race for each, and a combined endurance race. After a strong qualifying session, Bacheta’s teammate in the Oregon team Niccolo Nalio started the endurance race from second on the grid, and maintained that position throughout the opening stint. When Nalio handed over to Bacheta, the Englishman was able to exit the pits ahead of the previous race leading car, now in the hands of Andrea Pizzitola. The sister Oregon Team Renault Sport R.S 01 of David Fumanelli, though, managed to jump from third into the lead of the race. Bacheta then chased Fumanelli home to finish just 2.1s behind the Italian and complete an Oregon 1-2 in the opening race of the season.
The heavens opened ahead of the points scoring sprint race for the Elite drivers. Bacheta started from sixth on the grid in the wet conditions alongside his fellow professional racers, and made an excellent move around the outside at the first corner to take two places and move up to fourth. An enthralling battle for third then followed, as Bacheta attacked Pizzitola for the final podium spot, the two swapping places on numerous occasions. As the conditions began to dry, all the drivers were struggling with their wet tyres losing grip. Pizzitola moved up into second place, as Bacheta and Wolfgang Reip battled for third place in the closing laps, though at the line the Belgian racer managed to hold on to the final podium position by less than a second.
“It was a pretty good way to start the season,” said Bacheta. “Although as the professional driver I don’t score points in the Endurance race, it was still great to be on the podium in the first race of the new championship, and shows that me and Niccolo have strong pace. Having said that, it’s a bit frustrating as we came so close to winning! In the sprint race, the tyres started overheating really quickly as the circuit began to dry, so it was very important to look after them. Having started from sixth, to be 0.9s from the podium at the end of the race was pretty good.”
The result leaves Bacheta fourth in the championship standings after the first round, with Dutch driver Steijn Schothorst leading the way for the Equipe Verschuur team after he took victory at Spa. It’s a quick turnaround now for the Renault Sport Trophy, as the next races are just two weeks after Spa at the Hungaroring circuit. Bacheta had success at the Hungarian venue on his way to sealing the 2012 FIA Formula Two title, and will be looking to repeat that and build on a strong first weekend in the Renault Sport Trophy.
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