1 January 1901
DAMS open account in style at Sepang.
If the DAMS team thought it had turned a corner with Jerome d'Ambrosio's podium in the GP2 Asia Series feature race at Sepang on Saturday, Kamui Kobayashi's victory in the sprint event a day later would have come as a pleasant bonus.
Starting from fourth on the grid, Kobayashi made the most of a slow getaway for the front row and went straight into a lead which he would not relinquish for 22 laps. Behind him, points' leaders Romain Grosjean and Vitaly Petrov battled over second place, but the DAMS machine was never threatened as Kobayashi pulled away at the head of the field to add to the fifth place he had taken in difficult conditions in the feature race.
“I made a great start and managed to get to the front in the first corner," the Japanese reported. "Then I pushed to pull out a small lead over the cars behind me. After that, I lifted off slightly to nurse my tyres.
"We've done a great job in Malaysia and scored a bagful of points. Our season's really begun this weekend and we're definitely heading in the right direction after a few difficult races. Our efforts are starting to pay off.
"Saturday's track conditions were very tricky and you really had to fight your way up through the field, but our strategy was the right one – we fitted the dry weather tyres at just the right time and got the best out of the changing conditions.”
“We're delighted for the team, and for Kamui, as winning a race is always very satisfying," team manager Eric Boullier commented. "He made a blinding start and drove superbly, opening up a comfortable lead and then controlling the race.
"Since the start of the championship, we've known that we've got the potential to fight at the front but, for different reasons, we were not been able to capitalise on our efforts in the first two meetings. Today we've shown our true level of competitiveness, and I want to congratulate the whole team for the great job they've done, as well as our drivers. We can't wait to go to Bahrain for the next race."
Kobayashi's victory threatens to overshadow the team's Saturday performance, in which d'Ambrosio headed home a three-five result to open DAMS' account for season. Again, the Belgian benefited from strong teamwork, particularly in the pits, to mark only his fifth race in GP2 with a podium finish, but was then prevented from building on that when he failed to start Sunday's sprint.
“What a race!" d'Ambrosio said, recalling Saturday's wet-dry event. "After missing out in several rounds because of the mechanical problems that have hamstrung me since the start of the championship, I was able to turn things around. It was a great morale-booster in a tough race.
"I didn't make any mistakes and knew when to push at the right moment. The team reacted perfectly to the track conditions and my pit-stop went off like clockwork. What's really good is that this result owes nothing to chance. It was, above all, the fruit of perfectly-executed team work.
“Sadly, I was unable to start the sprint because of a mechanical problem, and it's a real shame. Starting from sixth on the grid, I could have battled for points – the podium even – but that's racing! I'm going to put this disappointment behind me and concentrate on the positive aspect of the weekend.”
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