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F2: Iwasa conquers Le Castellet Feature Race on path to first championship victory

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Ayumu Iwasa was untouchable as he added his name to the Formula 2 winners’ list in triumphant style. The DAMS driver fought back after a less than ideal start to get the better of Jack Doohan on the opening lap and never looked back, cruising to victory 8.6s clear of Theo Pourchaire and Frederik Vesti.

Wheelspin off the line for pole-sitter Logan Sargeant allowed Doohan to carve his way up from fourth to first at the opening corner. However, it was Iwasa who had the pace – with more grip and the advantage of the slipstream along the Mistral Straight, the Red Bull junior pulled off a brilliant move into Turn 6 for the lead.

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Driving off into the distance, even an early Safety Car appearance to collect the stricken Marcus Armstrong and Marino Sato couldn’t stop the Japanese driver steadily building his advantage as the laps ticked down.

Bouncing back after a penalty demoted him from the podium in the Sprint Race, Pourchaire got to soak up the cheers from the ecstatic French crowd as he soared his way up from fifth to second. The Sauber Academy junior had a lucky escape, after being sent off track by Doohan in the middle stages of the race. The Australian driver risked a late move on his rival, but overestimated himself, going too deep into the corner and running over the kerb, sending his rear spinning into Pourchaire’s path.

Fortunately, both drivers managed to make it out relatively unscathed as Pourchaire held on to P2, while Doohan’s excursion allowed Vesti in the second ART Grand Prix car to move up to third and secure a double podium at the team’s home race, aiding by Sargeant’s early retirement following an issue at the pit stop for the Williams Academy junior.

Felipe Drugovich’s run of consistent results continued with the long-time championship leader capitalising on the alternative strategy to bring home fourth, although he left it a few laps too late to make a move on to the podium, despite closing in on Vesti’s rear wing on the final lap. Doohan’s day wasn’t what he would have hoped for, and he was forced to settle for fifth.

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Liam Lawson added more points to his tally following his Sprint Race victory yesterday in sixth, finishing ahead of fellow Red Bull junior Jehan Daruvala. Clement Novalak worked miracles to keep his soft tyres in check from Lap 7 to the chequered flag, enabling him to secure eighth having started down in 15th.

At the back end of the points, Roy Nissany and Enzo Fittipaldi charged their way through the field to finish ninth and 10th, having started down in 20th and 19th, respectively.

Drugovich extends his hold over the drivers’ championship for the eighth consecutive round. However, Pourchaire’s podium has allowed him to snip a few points off the Brazilian driver’s advantage, with 39 points now separating the two. Sargeant drops down to third, comfortably ahead of fourth-placed Daruvala, as Lawson climbs back into the top five.

It’s advantage ART in the teams’ standings, who now sit 10 points clear of MP Motorsport courtesy of their double podium. Carlin fall to third a further two points behind. PREMA Racing remain fourth ahead of Hitech Grand Prix.

It’s all still to play for as F2 heads into a crucial final round before the summer break in Budapest next weekend from July 22-24.

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