GP2 » 24 January 2009
Maiden win for Perez.
Sergio Perez has become the first Mexican driver to win a GP2 race after he converted his reverse grid pole position into victory in Bahrain.
Also the first rookie to win a race in this season's Asia Series, British F3 graduate Perez led from the lights to flag after resisting late race pressure from a charging Davide Valsecchi, completing a famous win for the Campos team.
Perez's cause was aided from the start when fellow front row sitter Giedo van der Garde was wheeled off the line on the formation lap and forced to start from the pit lane. Leaving a gap between himself and his rivals, Perez got away well to lead from Valsecchi, up from fourth, and Nico Hulkenberg, the German getting another strong start on his GP2 bow.
Javier Villa was another strong starter from ninth, leaving Roldan Rodriguez down to fifth from third, race one winner Kamui Kobayashi sixth, Earl Bamber seventh and Jerome d'Ambrosio eighth.
Far from feeling pressure as he led a GP2 race for the first time, Perez quickly established some air between himself and Shanghai sprint race winner Valsecchi, who could only stabilise the gap at around two seconds after a few laps.
Gradually though, the Durango driver began to break down the gap to the point that they entered the final lap separated by just half a second. Nonetheless, despite his best efforts, Valsecchi was never close enough to make a lunge at the lead.
As such, it was left to Perez to take the spoils for the Spanish team, a result that moves him past more experienced team-mate Vitaly Petrov in the overall standings. Second for Valsecchi sees him move up in the championship too, the Italian rising to second, ten points behind Kobayashi.
Elsewhere, in a race largely devoid of incident, most eyes would be fixed on d'Ambrosio, the Belgian once again forced to recover from a tardy start to gradually work his way up the order.
Starting with Bamber, d'Ambrosio went on to dispatch his championship leading DAMS team-mate Kobayashi soon afterwards to drop him out of the points' positions. Going on to pass Rodriguez, pulling Kobayashi through with him, a mistake by Villa promoted d'Ambrosio up to fourth place as the closing stages approached.
Quickly catching Hulkenberg, d'Ambrosio pulled off his move on the final lap to snatch another podium following his second place finish in the feature race. Hulkenberg held on for fourth, while Super Nova's Villa resisted the attentions of Kobayashi to retain fifth.
Just outside the points, teenager Bamber was seventh for Meritus, ahead of Arden pair Edoardo Mortara and Luiz Razia, as well as team-mate Marco Bonanomi, who rose to tenth from the back of the grid over the course of the race.
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