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Lucas Foresti mastered changeable conditions at Brands Hatch on Saturday afternoon to claim his third victory of the season, holding off championship leader Felipe Nasr who had been closing rapidly on slick tyres. The Fortec driver opted to keep wets on for the whole race after a damp start, crossing the line 4.966 seconds ahead of Nasr, while pole-sitter Rupert Svendsen-Cook slipped back to third.
"I didn’t think about pitting,” Foresti explained after taking the win ahead of his compatriot. "I just tried to manage the situation and go as fast as I could. I got a good gap but it was not big enough for me to come in and change to slicks. If the race had been one lap longer then there would have been a big battle for first place."
A pre-race downpour left the drivers with no choice but to begin on the wet compound, with the circuit covered in rain water. Svendsen-Cook got away smoothly from his grid-slot and held a comfortable lead at the first corner, with Carlos Huertas and Nasr also maintaining position. Fortec driver Will Buller endured a much more troublesome start, dropping significantly down the order from fourth place.
Kevin Magnussen was one of the biggest movers at the first corner, but he outbraked himself at Druids and quickly slipped back to 15th. The first retiree was rookie pilot Bart Hylkema, with the Dutchman running into the gravel and all but handing the class victory to Kotaro Sakurai. Just a few laps later, attentions quickly turned to switching from wet to slick tyres, with the surface rapidly drying up.
After his poor start, Buller was eager to make up ground and pitted first for the dry tyres. Most of the field followed suit over the next few laps, including race leader Svendsen-Cook who stayed out longer than many of his rivals. He exited the pit lane just ahead of team-mate Nasr, but lost the position moments later when entering the apex at Druids. Meanwhile, Foresti was still lapping on the wet tyres and showed no signs of pitting, with Nasr and Svendsen-Cook leading the slick tyre chase behind.
Despite his best efforts, Nasr was unable to get ahead of Foresti and missed out by less than five seconds at the line. The Carlin driver was closing in by over four seconds a lap at this point, but due to the wet track surface at the start, the race only reached 21 of its 23 scheduled laps. Scott Pye had been running as high as second on the same wet tyre strategy, but fell down to seventh at the flag.
Jazeman Jaafar followed home Carlin team-mates Nasr and Svendsen-Cook at the finish, two seconds ahead of front row starter Huertas who secured a healthy points haul in fifth. Buller and Pye were next up, while Magnussen was classified just in front of Menasheh Idafar and Harry Tincknell after receiving a ten second penalty.
Sunday's Race 2 begins at 11.20am (BST)
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