Kamui Kobayashi has extended his lead at the top of the GP2 Asia standings after leading a resounding 1-2 result for DAMS in Bahrain.
The Japanese driver overcame an early challenge from pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg for a dominant victory over team-mate Jerome d'Ambrosio, who in turn recovered from a poor start to secure DAMS' first 1-2 result in GP2 history. Edoardo Mortara rounded out the podium on his first GP2 outing.
Having snatched all of the headlines with his fine pole position lap in qualifying, debutant Hulkenberg didn't let the pressure get to him as the lights went green, the ART driver squeezing into the tight first turn right-hander with the lead firmly intact.
By contrast, front row sitter d'Ambrosio didn't get away so well and found himself down to fourth behind Kobayashi and Mortara after they swamped him in the short blast down to the opening bend.
The start wasn't without drama though as Sakon Yamamoto and returnee Marco Bonanomi both stalled, prompting some rather dramatic avoidance by Sergio Perez positioned directly behind them on the grid.
At the front, Hulkenberg quickly attempted to shake the attentions of Kobayashi, but while he was matching the German driver turn for turn, fellow newcomer Mortara was finding things somewhat tougher in third as he dropped away from the leaders and fought the advances of d'Ambrosio, Roldan Rodriguez, Javier Villa and Giedo van der Garde.
Further back, Ocean Racing Technology's second race came to a very premature end when Fabrizio Crestani got caught up in the mid-field shuffle with a spin at turn three, while Yelmer Buurman was also a first lap retiree.
There had also been problems for Kevin Nai Chia Chen, who had stalled at the start and only got going in time to have the field begin lapping him on lap four. Indeed, he would play a part in d'Ambrosio's move on Mortara, the Italian getting a slipstream from the FMSI car down the home straight, only for his rival to surge up the inside having benefitted from the tow of both cars.
Caught at an awkward angle at which to pass on the first turn, contact was inevitable, with d'Ambrosio clipping Mortara's right-rear wheel and tipping him slightly wide. Recovering in time for the second part of the turn, the Belgian swept through into third place, Mortara holding onto fourth and Villa moving up to fifth when Rodriguez was briefly flung skywards by an errant kerb and sent sliding across the sand. The Spaniard recovered in time to retain sixth.