Since earning a Williams F1 test for winning the FIA Formula 2 championship in 2012, it’s been a frustrating few years for Luciano Bacheta.
A finalist in the 2010 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, Bacheta made a strong enough impression on engineer Alex Zoechling in the DTM Mercedes C-Class that he was invited back for another test at Estoril, but a drive failed to materialise, and part-seasons in Auto GP and the ELMS served only to stifle the 25-year-old Briton’s promising career momentum.
After a 2015 spent battling the language barrier in the one-make Renault Sport Trophy series for the RS01, Zoechling – now at HTP Motorsport – got back in touch and invited Bacheta to hold talks with the team.
These came to fruition in time for Bacheta to join the Blancpain group test at Paul Ricard – where his presence was kept a close secret – before completing a shakedown of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Monza, the venue for the first round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup this weekend.
“It all came about because of my time with Mercedes in DTM – my engineer during the tests was Alex Zoechling and he’s my engineer at HTP now,” said Bacheta, who will be entered in the Pro Cup alongside Clemens Schmidt and Indy Dontje. “He’s seen what I can do in a DTM car and he was my engineer when I did a GP2 test with Russian Time as well so it’s good to be working with people I already have a history with.
“I’ve been wanting to get into GTs for a few years now actually, but getting in in the right way can be quite difficult – it’s very easy to come in, not really make any impact and get a bit missed, but with HTP I should have a shot at doing well and the right people noticing. We’re very close as a team, HTP have got the car really well sorted and it seems that no matter who jumps in, we all do the same lap-times.”
Bacheta admits that the RS01 wasn’t quite the preparation for GT racing he had hoped – his pole position time at Silverstone was some four seconds quicker than Katsumasa Chiyo’s polesitting Nissan managed in Blancpain – but is optimistic that he can quickly get up to speed.
“The RS01 was not really like a GT, it’s so much faster – I thought it would be similar but it really isn’t,” he says. “I don’t have any GT experience, so it’s been a big learning curve. Single-seaters are all about high-speed precision, but in GTs there’s a lot more going on, there’s a lot more movement and you need to think a lot more to get a decent laptime out of it. It’s different to what I’m used to, but I’m sure I’ll find it more natural by the end of this season.
“Obviously the races are generally going to be longer, but already I’ve had a lot of track-time which you don’t really get in single-seaters. I absolutely can’t wait for the Spa 24 Hours, that’s a big highlight for me because I’ve never raced or driven at night.”
Looking ahead, the 25-year-old sees a rosy future in GTs and is actively taking steps towards attaining a VLN SP9 license to further his aspirations of becoming a paid-up professional with a manufacturer.
“I know it’s not going to happen straight away,” Bacheta says, “but GT racing is where the manufacturers are at the moment and where there’s manufacturers, there’s opportunities. My whole career has been taking what we could get because I’ve never had good funding behind me and since I came out of single-seaters it’s been a bit patchy, so I’m hoping now that this is the start of something more consistent and that it will be a lot more smooth and straight-forward from here.”