- Formula Two Championship
Bailly holds off Palmer for home win
Belgian driver Benjamin Bailly capped an impressive weekend at his home circuit of Zolder by winning the second Formula Two race of the weekend from pole position.
The 20-year-old, who hails from the outskirts of Liege just an hour south of the Zolder track, dominated from the start and eventually took the chequered flag by just over three seconds from championship leader Jolyon Palmer.
Palmer rarely threatened the lead as his focus was concentrated on a four-way tussle with Jack Clarke, Dean Stoneman and Will Bratt for second place. The series leader had jumped Clarke off the line to move into second and initially pulled away but Clarke, being pressed himself by Stoneman, reined in the series leader as an exciting battle began to take shape.
Stoneman, winner of the first race of the weekend, grabbed fourth with a slick manoeuvre around Bratt and looked to have more pace than Clarke. The 19-year-old struggled to pass Clarke as he cut some stoically defensive lines but a mistake by the latter on lap 20 eventually allowed Stoneman through to take third place. That freed Palmer to safety for the last two laps, while a mistake by the advancing Bratt allowed Clarke to run home unchallenged in fourth.
The result means Palmer extends his lead over Stoneman at the top of the overall championship standings to eight points, while Bailly, who was greeted by wild celebrations on his arrival in parc ferme, moves up to seventh - 14 points Sergey Afanasiev in fifth.
"This is a really good feeling, fantastic in front of all my family and everybody who did a really good job," Bailly said after celebrating on the podium. "I just tried to keep the gap and finish first - that's what I did. I pushed as hard as I could in the first laps and kept my boosts until the end of the race in case there was a safety car.
"This makes me really happy and gives me more confidence for the rest of the season. I hope it's not the last one - I will do everything I can to remain at the front and why not more victories."