After three wins and four podium finishes in eight races, Romain Grosjean is the inaugural GP2 Asia Series Champion - despite brake woes condemning him to retirement in the sprint outing in Bahrain this weekend.

As the lights went out, the Frenchman shot into second place from eighth on the grid with a meteoric getaway in the 23-lap affair. He was aided by front row sitters Karun Chandhok and Diego Nunes coming together, sending the Indian into a spin and promoting Vitaly Petrov - the only man who could have prevented Grosjean from lifting the laurels in the desert kingdom - into the lead.

The ART Grand Prix star moved through into P1 before the opening lap was out, however, diving past his Russian title rival into the final corner before going on to pull out an eight-second gap over his pursuers. Petrov was left to fend off the advances of Kamui Kobayashi, Adrian Valles and S?bastien Buemi for the runner-up spot, with the latter pair swapping positions as the unfortunate Spaniard encountered gearbox issues in his FMSI machine.

A bold move from Kobayashi on lap five earned the Japanese ace second place, as compatriot Hiroki Yoshimoto moved in to join the party behind. The order would dramatically change on lap 13, however, when Kobayashi swept past an ailing Grosjean for the lead, the Renault Development Driver's brake problems taking their toll. After slipping further down the order still, Grosjean was eventually forced into retirement on lap 18.

Whilst Toyota Formula 1 test driver Kobayashi cruised on to take the chequered flag for the second victory of his GP2 career, Buemi making it past Petrov for second in the final reckoning secured Grosjean the crown. The Swiss star also took fastest lap along the way as both he and Kobayashi repeated their feature race rostrum appearances.

Petrov came home more than six seconds back in third, and is now an unassailable 20 points adrift of Grosjean in the standings and under threat from five other drivers closing in behind, Kobayashi and Buemi amongst them. Yoshimoto, Harald Schleghelmilch and Davide Valsecchi rounded out the points-scorers in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

Although the title has now been decided, there is still much to play for in the battle for the runner-up honours, with Petrov, Buemi, Fairuz Fauzy - a non-scorer in the desert kingdom - Bruno Senna - who failed to start the Bahrain sprint race due to electrical woes - Kobayashi and Valles covered by just nine points and all in the mix when the championship heads into its finale in Dubai next weekend.

"I scored twelve points this weekend and two podiums," DAMS star Kobayashi enthused of his success. "It's a great result for everyone! I'm back in the game for second place in the championship - we are competitive and I'm more motivated than ever!"

"We had a great weekend!" echoed runner-up Buemi. "This result is really good for the team. They worked so hard on the car, and it was very competitive again today.

"When I see the standings, second place is within my reach. We had a hard time in Dubai in January. Let's see if we can fix this."

"The conditions of this track are ever-changing," explained Barwa International Campos ace Petrov, "so we had to work hard on the set-up. I had a good start, but then I couldn't hold my position. Still, third place is a good result. I know that the title is gone, but I will fight really hard for second place. See you in Dubai!"

To see the Bahrain sprint race results in full, click here

 

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