Jack Doohan has won back-to-back Formula 2 Feature Races with a victory in Belgium as championship protagonists stumble, producing a new championship leader heading into the Summer break.
There was major drama before the race began as championship leader Frederik Vesti crashed out of the running on his way to the grid. Victor Martins also span and made contact with the barriers on the lap to the grid, but was able to continue and take the race start.
Prema’s Oliver Bearman got away well from pole while Martins fell from second to fifth in the opening few corners. Contact between Red Bull juniors Dennis Hauger and Ayumu Iwasa at Les Combes brought out a Safety Car. Iwasa would retire due to suspension damage and Hauger was disqualified after receiving a push start from the marshals.
Bearman was able to maintain the lead as the race got back underway, but was unable to get the same jump on the field he had done off the grid.
The Prema driver fought brilliantly with Theo Pourchaire for the race lead. Both drivers were clearly battling on the edge, as demonstrated on Lap 6 when the leading pair both locked up and jumped the Les Combes chicane.
A Virtual Safety Car was triggered when Isack Hadjar found the barriers when exiting the pitlane.
When it came time for the leaders to make their pit stops, it was Pourchaire who came out on top. The ART GP crew were able to get the jump on their Prema rivals who had a slow stop.
A further Safety Car was deployed when Jak Crawford came to a stop following contact with Juan Manuel Correa at Les Combes, leaving the Hitech stranded.
Doohan took the chance to swap his medium tyres for softs under the Safety Car, and emerged second between Pourchaire and Bearman, much to the Briton’s frustration.
A spin under Safety Car for Joshua Mason prolonged proceedings, meaning just five laps remained when racing resumed.
Doohan, with both DRS and the tyre advantage, began to reel in Pourchaire and continually upped the pressure. Doohan’s chase need not be long as he swept past Pourchaire on the Kemmel Straight, securing the lead of the race by Les Combes.
Doohan held on to take the Feature Race win after starting 11th on the grid. The timings of the Safety Car played into the hands of the alternate strategy, allowing the ART driver deliver a fantastic result for the team.
Theo Pourchaire finished second, but more importantly inherits the championship lead following Vesti’s absence from the race.
Sprint race winner Enzo Fittipaldi completed the podium ahead of Zane Maloney and Victor Martins. Martins had received a five-second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane. He dropped off the podium as a result.
Verschoor finished sixth ahead of Bearman who also received a time penalty. Maini, Stanek and Boschung took the final points.
Pourchaire has now taken the championship lead heading into the Summer break. The Frenchman now holds a 12 point advantage over Vesti, and also extends the gap to Iwasa who sits third in the standings.