Invicta Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan overtook Frenchman Théo Pourchaire to snatch victory in a dramatic FIA Formula 2 Feature Race in Belgium, having started 11th.
The Aussie took his second Feature Race win in a row, having won from pole position in Hungary last weekend, repeating his Feature Race triumph around the famous Sap-Francorchamps circuit in 2022.
The Alpine Academy driver started on the medium compound tyre and took advantage of a Safety Car to pit and gain track position, rejoining in second position.
He passed Pourchaire, who had jumped ahead of pole-sitter Oliver Bearman through the pit stops, on Lap 23.
Doohan’s fifth F2 win puts the 20-year-old into outside title contention after PREMA’s Frederik Vesti, who led the driver’s standings heading into the weekend, crashed out before the start of the race.
ART’s Pourchaire now leads the Drivers’ standings, after his second-place finish, while his ART team have extend their lead over PREMA in the Teams championship.
F2’s newest race winner Enzo Fittipaldi finished third, thanks to penalties for Bearman and ART’s Victor Martins.
The drama started before the race as Danish driver Vesti spun off on the lap to the grid, meaning he was unable to take his place on the front row, alongside teammate Bearman.
And when the lights went out, the Dane would have been dismayed to see closest title rival Pourchaire vault from fifth to second.
Another title contender, DAMS’ Ayumu Iwasa, saw their hopes of closing the gap to Vesti disappear. The Japanese driver made contact with MP Motorsport’s Dennis Hauger, damaging his suspension and ending his race.
As for Hauger, he was push started by the marshals and subsequently black-flagged for outside assistance.
It seemed the fight for the win was between Pourchaire and Bearman, as the duo battled in the early laps.
The French driver chased, with the aid of DRS (Drag Reduction System) on the run to the Les Combes chicane, with both drivers missing the corner on lap 6.
Bearman resisted the ART’s efforts to take the lead, with the pair pitting for mediums, having started on the soft compound tyres.
In a race between the pit crews, ART got the jump on their Italian rivals, allowing Pourchaire to exit in the lead of the race.
19-year-old Pourchaire looked set to maximise the damage caused to Vesti’s championship advantage with victory, but a spin for Jak Crawford’s Hitech car called for a second safety car period of the race.
This was Doohan’s moment of good fortune, which allowed him to stop, having run the alternative strategy, and return to the circuit behind Pourchaire in second.
With fresher, grippier tyres, Doohan kept his cool in pursuit of the lead, with damp patches off the racing line waiting to spoil a late-braking move.
On Lap 23, the Australian got a tremendous run through the infamous Eau Rouge and Radillon corners, blasting past Pourchaire with the help of DRS.
Bearman’s eventful race was not over, as he dueled with fellow rookie Victor Martins, earning a five-second time penalty for tagging the Frenchman’s rear wheel as Martins took the final step on the podium from the teenage Briton.
However, Martins would not hold on to P3 thanks to his own five-second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
This promoted Saturday’s Sprint Race winner, Enzo Fittipaldi, to third.
Pourchaire now holds a 12-point lead over Vesti, as Doohan closes to 38 points off the summit.
PREMA and ART heading into the weekend level on points, but the Italian squad’s difficult Sunday means they now trail ART by 30 points.
Round 12 of the season comes after the summer break in the Netherlands, at Zandvoort, on 25th-27th August. Watch out for all of the discussion on The F2 Show and see a special giveaway below.
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Image: Alpine F1 Team