Historic F1 ace Mauro Pane has been found dead at the wheel of a car submerged in an Italian canal.

The 50-year old had been reported missing a week ago, but was only located after an extensive police search of the area between Pavie and Piacenza found his Renault in the waterway. A second body was also reported.

While 2008 Historic F1 Championship winner Pane's on-track exploits may have bypassed all but the most involved motorsport fan, his abilities - and wide-ranging stable of historic grand prix machinery - made him a natural choice when Ron Howard was casting for the hit movie Rush, which portrayed the 1976 world championship battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

As well as calling on Pane's restoration company to provide many of the cars featured on the film's recreated grids, the director also used the Italian to stand in for Daniel Bruhl when stunts involving Lauda's car were required.

"It looks like the car came off the road and went into the canal, but the full cause is still being investigated and it is too early to say for sure," a police spokesman was quoted by ESPN, "We will have to carry out toxicology tests on the two victims as well to see if there were any contributing factors."

Sean Edwards, who played his father Guy in the same film, was killed in a crash while accompanying a young driver during a test in Australia last October.

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