Davide Valsecchi has made history by clinching the 2010 GP2 Asia Series crown three races early – or exactly halfway through the campaign – after triumphing in the opening feature race in Bahrain this weekend, in so doing following in the wheel tracks of his title-winning predecessors and F1 graduates Romain Grosjean and Kamui Kobayashi.
Pole-sitter Jules Bianchi dropped out of the running for victory by making a poor start when the lights went out in Sakhir, allowing Luca Filippi and Javier Villa to burst through from the second row of the grid to lead into the first corner. Whilst palpably quicker than his Qi-Meritus rival, the young Spaniard was unable to find a way past Filippi on-track – but he seized the advantage following an early pit-stop on lap eight, at which point Valsecchi ran third in his iSport International machine.
However, the Lombard native was not done yet, and rapidly closed on compatriot Filippi. Following several unsuccessful attempts to find a way by – prompting a mistake when he ran wide at turn ten – Valsecchi made a move stick into turn one on lap 28, and just two laps later he was in the lead after easily overcoming Villa into the same corner.
From that point on, the result was never in doubt, as four laps later still the new champion took the chequered flag the best part of three seconds clear of Filippi, who had regained the runner-up spot from Villa, the Arden ace struggling with his tyres and only just managing to fend off DPR rival Giacomo Ricci at the line.
Fellow early pit-stopper Charles Pic wound up fifth, ahead of consistent GP2 returnee Alvaro Parente (Coloni), Sergio Perez (Barwa Addax) and A1GP race-winner Adrian Zaugg, who will thereby begin the sprint race on Saturday from pole in his Trident Racing entry.
Luckless British hope Oliver Turvey, meanwhile, came home just outside the points in ninth following a pit-stop delay caused by a problem on his left-rear wheel, guaranteeing Valsecchi the title. In the teams' standings, meanwhile, iSport has moved a further step closer to glory as it now sits on 61 points to nearest challenger DPR's 20.
To see the race result in full, click here