Luca Filippi produced a strong raceday performance in Bahrain, leading the final feature race of the 2009-10 GP2 Asia Series from start to finish to give MalaysiaQi-Meritus.com a first victory.
Starting from pole position, the Italian made a strong getaway and retained his advantage, while front row partner Charles Pic took off too slowly and allowed new champion Davide Valsecchi to dive under him into turn one to assume second spot.
Filippi, however, kept his countryman at bay, maintaining a couple of seconds between their cars and getting back on track still ahead after both pitted on the same lap. Valsecchi again proved powerless to close the gap, leaving the Meritus driver to enjoy his - and the team's - first win of the season.
"I feel great because I really wanted a win," Filippi commented, "So far, we had shown that we had a good pace, but we could never go all the way, so I really wanted to make another step on the race pace, especially in the end.
"Today we had the right set-up, everything was in place, and we've had the perfect weekend so far - pole, win, fastest lap. The car is fast, reliable, easy to drive and consistent, and this is what I wanted to achieve."
Filippi admitted that he had been concerned about Valsecchi, particularly given the Italian's record in this year's Asia Series.
"In the past races, he has always been able to finish on an even stronger pace - he is incredibly fast in the last ten or 15 laps - so I pushed hard to keep a gap between us. But I was also careful with my rear tyres and not destroy them before the end of the race. When my team told me he was catching me, I pushed in the lap before the safety car, and it was quite a good lap, not the fastest, but good enough.
"Of course, [the safety car] put him closer to me, but I managed a good restart and then pushed 100 per cent until the end."
Pic, meanwhile, tried to recover from his poor start with an earlier pit-stop and passed the exit of the pit-lane right after Valsecchi came back out from his tyre stop. The two men ran side-by-side into turn one, but the iSport man fended off Pic's attack and kept the advantage.
Filippi was comfortably leading Valsecchi and Pic when a late safety car period was brought about by a collision between Christian Vietoris - then running in eighth place - and backmarker Plamen Kralev. The interruption did little to disrupt the order, however, and, behind the leading trio, Alvaro Parente held his own in fourth, while Javier Villa, Jules Bianchi and Giacomo Ricci fought for fifth place.