Romain empire survives Senna assault.

Romain Grosjean could have finished fourth in the GP2 Asia Series feature race in Dubai, but was eventually handed victory when race-long leader Bruno Senna was cruelly denied the win by a puncture four laps from home.

Romain Grosjean could have finished fourth in the GP2 Asia Series feature race in Dubai, but was eventually handed victory when race-long leader Bruno Senna was cruelly denied the win by a puncture four laps from home.

Starting alongside each other on the front row, polewinner Grosjean and Senna pulled an immediate gap over their pursuers, but proceeded to battle around the entire opening lap. Finally, when the Brazilian showed a little muscle, both found themselves off line, but it was the iSport car that responded quickest, getting alongside Grosjean on the exit and leaving the Frenchman with little option but to yield.

Once out in front, Senna was able to pull away from the field, while Grosjean found himself sandwiched by the two Arden cars as Yelmer Buurman also took advantage of the Frenchman's excursion and team-mate Sebastien Buemi - after a lightning start that saw him rival Buurman into turn one - closed in behind. The Swiss driver was not about to be denied another spot, however, and sliced past Grosjean at the start of lap two to relegate the series champion to an early fourth.

Grosjean's attempt at a response did not appear to be helped by a trip over the kerbs that sent him airborne next time around, but the ART driver managed to keep in touch with the two ahead of him and, when Buemi decided to challenge Buurman for second, almost found a way past both red-and-blue cars. Instead, it was Buemi who came out on top, usurping his team-mate who, suffering a slide not long afterwards, also succumbed to Grosjean, dropping to fourth on lap four.

Behind them, Marco Bonanomi regained some of the ground he had lost at the start by passing the surprising Jason Tahinci for fifth, while Vitaly Petrov, Alberto Valerio, Hiroki Yoshimoto, Milos Pavlovic and Davide Valsecchi squabbled over positions in the top ten. Missing from the battle, however, was two-time race winner Kamui Kobayashi, who stalled on the line and found himself right at the back of the pack with only the bonus for fastest lap to chase.

While the earliest stoppers came in at the end of lap two, it wasn't until three laps later that anyone of significance opted for fresh tyres, with Buurman ducking out of fourth. Surprisingly, despite being tucked up behind Buemi, ART decided to leave Grosjean out until lap 13, seemingly costing the Frenchman any chance of catching and passing Senna as they dithered between being able to pass the Swiss driver and having enough clear air after Buemi had stopped on lap 11 to make a difference.

To make matters worse - or so it seemed - Grosjean's exit on cold rubber led him directly into side-by-side confrontation with his adversary at turn one, with the predominantly white ART machine coming off worst as Buemi held firm. The Swiss driver thus held station as the best-placed of those to have made their mandatory stops, while Senna headed Petrov and Ho-Pin Tung at the front of the field.

The Brazilian eventually came in on lap 14, with Petrov following suit after four laps out front, but the Brazilian had to wait a further four laps before resuming in P1 as Trident left Tung waiting for tyres until well past the half-way mark of the 34-lap distance. Once back in front, however, Senna made the most of the still squabbling Buemi and Grosjean battle to extend his advantage towards 20 seconds.

Already out of the equation were Adrian Valles, denting his chances of a top three overall championship spot, Marcelo Puglisi, who took too big a bite of Grosjean's kerb and found himself pitched into the barrier, and Christian Bakkerud, the perennially unlucky Dane having tagged Stephen Jelley in the midst of an intra-Super Nova battle with team-mate Fairuz Fauzy for the minor positions. Senna's iSport colleague, Karun Chandhok - tagged by Valsecchi - and Ben Hanley appeared to have completed the retirees, before Kobayashi, having waited until lap 27 to pit as he chased the fastest lap, clattered the barriers two laps from home.

For mush of that time, Senna appeared to have the race in his pocket, the gap to the Buemi-Grosjean battle extending all the while, but, on lap 30, the iSport car re-appeared on pit-lane, its right rear in need of attention. With little traffic to bother him, Senna must have found some of the carbon-fibre shards left from contact up and down the order - and then found that he still did not have enough in reserve to retain his lead.

Indeed, the Brazilian dropped agonisingly out of the points altogether, the pit-lane speed limit enough of a hindrance to allow not only those directly behind him through, but also everyone down to Milos Pavlovic, who inherited eighth place as Senna exited the pits.

Inheriting the lead, meanwhile, was none other than Grosjean who, having appeared to be stuck behind Buemi for the second time, somehow found a way past the Swiss driver with seven laps remaining. When Senna pitted, he led the charge past the stricken Brazilian, with Buemi and Buurman moving up a spot each to give Arden a rare podium double.

Petrov took fourth, while Bonanomi appeared on course for fifth, before having to yield to the flying Yoshimoto late on. Jerome d'Ambrosio, the first of early stoppers, gave DAMS something to hold on to after Kobayashi's crash with seventh, ahead of Pavlovic, who clung to eighth despite the hapless Senna's attentions.

There was some confusion at the line, however, as, for the second time this season, there did not appear to be a chequered flag. While some, notably Yoshimoto and Senna, backed off as they crossed the start-finish point, others kept pressing on, with Petrov almost collecting the back of Buurman on what should have been the slowing down lap. Fortunately, all escaped unscathed to set up a fascinating final race on Saturday, with positions in the top three of the individual standings and all three podium spots in the teams' championship still up for grabs.

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