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Bamber shines on debut.

GP2 rookie Earl Bamber put in a sterling debut performance to claim sixth place, and a second row grid slot for Sunday, in the opening race of the new Asia Series campaign at Shanghai International.

The Kiwi was taking in his first race in a car with ground effect, but showed no sign of nerves as he carried his qualifying form into the 34-lap race around the Chinese Grand Prix venue.

He made a strong start before working his way up from ninth on the grid to run sixth behind GP2 veteran Vitaly Petrov and comfortably ahead of Jerome d'Ambrosio and Luca Filippi in the early stages.

"I had an interesting start and found myself a bit in a sandwich between [Davide] Valsecchi and Filippi where I lost one position, but gained it again in the first corner after going wide," he recounted, "After that, I was fighting with Petrov, and that very soon put me back in sixth place behind strong drivers.

"I was able to keep Jerome d'Ambrosio behind me having passed him at the start, and I was maintaining the pace and lapping consistently. We had decided as part of the team's strategy not to complete our pit-stop in the first laps of the race, so we waited until the safety car was deployed. My stop went rather smoothly but, importantly, because of the safety car, I gained nothing and lost nothing. I rejoined as the safety car was still controlling the race before the tenth lap."

Despite dropping away from Petrov at the restart, Bamber held position once the field was up and running again, and was able to do so again when the safety car appeared for a second time in the late stages.

"As part of my first experience driving under a safety car, I found it hard to keep the tyre temperature up during the five laps that it was out," he related, "The safety car came out another time nine laps before the end and I had the same problem with cooling tyres. Overall, though, my first race in GP2 Asia was really good fun. I had a good pit-stop and do not feel tired, although it was one of my longest races ever."

The Kiwi, a former winner of the FBMW Asia title and frontrunner in Formula V6 Asia over the last couple of years, finished seven places ahead of experienced Meritus team-mate Alex Yoong, impressing those on the pit-wall.

"Earl Bamber had a strong race to climb from ninth on the grid to sixth and take three valuable points for our team on his debut," Meritus founder Peter Thompson commented, "The team has shown it is very competitive in race conditions and we're looking forward to consolidating our strong first race result in the second outing tomorrow."

Bamber will start third on the grid, behind Valsecchi and fellow rookie Chris van der Drift, when the top eight drivers are reversed for Sunday's sprint race.


Related Pictures

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Earl Bamber - QI-Meritus.Mahara [pic credit: GP2 Series Media]
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Daniel Abt (GER, Hilmer Motorsport), leads Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS), Felipe Nasr (BRA, Carlin) & Artem Markelov (RUS, RT RUSSIAN TIME) at the start at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) & Felipe Nasr (BRA, Carlin) battle for the lead at the start at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Felipe Nasr (BRA, Carlin) at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Felipe Nasr (BRA, Carlin), Johnny Cecotto (VEN, Trident) & Jolyon Palmer (GBR, DAMS) at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Felipe Nasr (BRA, Carlin) at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.)
Alex Lynn (GBR, Carlin), takes the chequered flag at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Alex Lynn (GBR, Carlin) celebrates his win in Parc Fermeat Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Jed Leicester/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Alex Lynn (GBR, Carlin) celebrates his win on the podium at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Alex Lynn (GBR, Carlin) celebrates his win on the podium with Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) and Alex Fontana, (SUI, ART Grand Prix) at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Jed Leicester/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Alex Lynn (GBR, Carlin) celebrates his win on the podium with Richie Stanaway (NZL, Status Grand Prix) and Alex Fontana, (SUI, ART Grand Prix) at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Sunday 24 August 2014. (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing) in action at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 23 August 2014 (Photo: Charles Coates/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing) celebrates at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 23 August 2014 (Photo: Charles Coates/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing), Dino Zamparelli (GBR, ART Grand Prix) & Nick Yelloly (GBR, Status Grand Prix), on the podium at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 23 August 2014 (Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Dean Stoneman (GBR, Marussia Manor Racing) in action at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Saturday 23 August 2014 (Photo: Jed Leicester/GP3 Series Media Service.)
Raffaele Marciello (ITA, Racing Engineering) at Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium. Friday 22 August 2014 (Photo: Jed Leicester/GP2 Series Media Service.)

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