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Asia Series showdown hits Bahrain

This weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix meeting will provide a prestigious backdrop to the crowning of the second-ever GP2 Asia Series champion, with four drivers in contention for the title, and two others in the mix for a top three overall position.

After a drama-filled weekend at the rain soaked Sepang International Circuit three weeks ago, everything remain up in the air, despite DAMS' Kamui Kobayashi looking as strong as ever, with pole position and another podium finish pocketed in Malaysia. The winner of the feature race, and fastest man on track - in Bahrain last January - during the third round of the championship - the Japanese Toyota protégé seems to be cruising towards his first GP2 crown, and arrives back in Sakhir some 13 points ahead of closest rival Davide Valsecchi.

The Durango racer, however, worked hard to keep his title challenge afloat in Sepang, claiming five more points over the weekend, and limiting Kobayashi's gains by beating the DAMS man in race two. Starting from the reversed pole in the sprint race, Valsecchi could not stop a flying Vitaly Petrov and daring Pastor Maldonado from overtaking him on a wet track, but remains the only driver in the field to have scored points at every race.

Along with Vitaly Petrov - whose strong end to the season, and victory in Malaysia, has put him third in the drivers' standings - and Shanghai poleman and race winner Roldan Rodriguez, Valsecchi will look to continue his challenge to Kobayashi over the two races that make up the Bahrain finale.

Coming into the final round, meanwhile, Sergio Perez and Jérôme d'Ambrosio remain within reach of a top three position in the championship, and will be no pushover when it comes to making life easy for the title contenders, despite Perez partnering Petrov at Barwa Campos and d'Ambrosio Kobayashi at DAMS.

The Belgian, however, will be forced to take a ten-place grid penalty following the black flag he received for going off in the vicinity of course workers attending an stranded car during the Sepang sprint race, and will not qualify for the pole position bonus points even if he records the fastest time in qualifying. They will go instead to the driver starting Saturday's feature race from P1.

Perez, meanwhile, will have his eye on his own prize as he currently sits just one point away from the absent Nico Hulkenberg for the series unofficial rookie title.

The only change to the line-up this weekend sees an early run-out for Karun Chandhok at Ocean Racing Technology, which is scheduled to join for the main series this summer

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Kamui Kobayashi - DAMS   [pic credit: GP2]
Gustav Malja F2 2017
Nobuharu Matsushita - ART Grand Prix [credit: Formula 2]
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, F2, Formula 2, Bahrain
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Charles Leclerc - PREMA Racing
Artem Markelov, F2, Bahrain
Artem Markelov
Norman Nato, Bahrain F2 2017, Formula 2
Charles Leclerc, Prema Racing, Formula 2, 2017
Nabil Jeffri, Team Trident [Credit: Team Trident]
Alexander Albon - ART Grand Prix [GP2 Series]
Gustav Malja - Racing Engineering [credit: GP2 Series]
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Alex Lynn - DAMS
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing
Pierre Gasly - PREMA Racing

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