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.

With d'Ambrosio freed and quickly establishing air between himself and Mortara, who appeared rather more satisfied with the less intense pressure being applied by Villa, attention returned to the front where Kobayashi was continuing to shadow Hulkenberg.

With Kobayashi seemingly better on the brakes, Hulkenberg was resorting to some unusual methods of trying to keep his rival behind on the run up to the first corner, weaving his ART car gently from side-to-side down the home straight in an attempt to break the tow behind.

However, with Hulkenberg's locking brakes beginning to show signs of pressure, Kobayashi was simply able to bide his time before eventually lunging up the inside of turn one from a fair distance back on lap 14. Forcing his victim wide, Kobayashi started pulling away as Hulkenberg's challenge quickly began to fade.

Indeed, as the pit stop window loomed, Hulkenberg was soon falling into the clutches of d'Ambrosio, who had been able to break down a seven second gap over just three revolutions to be pressuring Hulkenberg by lap 17 when he pitted. Unfortunately for Hulkenberg, a tardy pit-stop owing to a reluctant right-rear wheel ended any hopes he had to remaining in contention with the DAMS pair.

As one of the last drivers to stop, Kobayashi returned to the circuit with a comfortable lead over d'Ambrosio, who in turn looked comfortable in second position.

The battle for third, however, continued to rage on, albeit with Mortara holding the position after getting out marginally ahead of the delayed Hulkenberg. Harking back to their F3 Euroseries title fight, although Hulkenberg initially appeared to have the pace to get ahead of Mortara, the Arden driver was able to resist his attentions before eventually pulling away in the latter stages of the race.

As a sign of how far back Hulkenberg had slipped during the race, Kobayashi crossed the line almost 20secs up the road to secure his second win of the season and extend his championship lead over Rodriguez to ten points.

DAMS, meanwhile, take a commanding lead in the GP2 team standings after d'Ambrosio followed Kobayashi home for a career-equalling second place finish.

Mortara held on to third to steal Hulkenberg's thunder and also get Arden's points' tally of the ground, while Durango's Davide Valsecchi scored a fine fifth place finish having gradually worked his way up the order from tenth position on the grid.

Rodriguez resisted late race pressure from van der Garde to finish sixth, while Sergio Perez snatched the final point in eighth, albeit not before embarking on a rather rough overtaking move of Villa that almost saw the two colliding on the back straight.

The sprint race follows tomorrow with Perez and van der Garde assuming the front row.



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