The last time that Alexander Rossi won a race in GP2 it was almost two years before he was able to repeat the feat. This time around it was less than two weeks as he followed up his win in the sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps with a brilliantly judged run to victory at Monza after outdriving Stoffel Vandoorne in an eventful Saturday afternoon feature race which saw disaster hit both DAMS drivers as well as Rapax's Sergey Sirotkin.

CLICK: Full GP2 feature race 1 results from Monza

Having been the class of the field by some distance on Friday, the #1 DAMS car was in first place on the grid with Pierre Gasly having successfully claimed his maiden series pole position. Alongside him when the lights went out was the runaway championship points leader Stoffel Vandoorne, the ART promoted overnight to second by the exclusion of Mitch Evans when the Russian Time car had failed post-qualifying technical inspection for low tyre pressures.

Gasly was able to effortlessly leap away to safety, leaving Vandoorne desperately battling wheel-to-wheel with Gasly's team mate Alex Lynn through Rettifilo, Curva Grande, Roggia and Lesmo until Lynn was finally able to secure the upper hand. That left Vandoorne trying and failing to fight off the attentions of Rapax's Sergey Sirotkin for fourth - very much not the start to the race that the Belgian had wanted to see. Now he urgently needed to gather his wits together to ensure that Alexander Rossi (Racing Engineering) and Arthur Pic (Campos Racing) didn't take advantage and make the situation even worse for him.

Four laps in and the action was temporarily neutralised by a safety car after series newcomer Meindert van Buuren went wide at Ascari and took a hard impact against the safety barriers. The crash inflicted extensive damage to the right hand side of the MP Motorsport car but van Buuren himself was unhurt and immediately hopped out of the car and walked to safety. It was still too early for the leaders - the majority of whom had started on the softer option compound with the exception of Richie Stanaway (Status Grand Prix) and Nobuharu Matsushita (ART) - to take advantage of the situation to make their mandatory pit stops. Even Jordan King, whose Racing Engineering has sustained some damage in an opening lap clash with the Trident of Raffaele Marciello, opted not to pit for repairs but instead continue to tough it out.

The race resumed on lap 6 with Gasly once again scampering to safety at the front while for the second time today Lynn was locked in wheel-to-wheel combat for second place, this time with Sirotkin. Once again Lynn proved equal to the task and the DAMS 1-2 was maintained, while behind them Vandoorne endured one more lap on the options before the pit window opened and he gratefully made his way down pit road for an immediate change to the prime compound. However, it meant a drop to 23rd place as no one else at the head of the field followed his lead.

It was another two laps before Gasly signalled the start of a larger outbreak of pit stops. Gasly's stop appeared to go well but as he left pit lane he was notably slow and he reported a loose wheel, allowing Vandoorne to flash past him at the end of pit lane. In a nightmare few minutes for the DAMS pit crew there were also problems for Lynn when the Briton made his own stop a lap later, and as a result it was Sirotkin who came back out on track just ahead of Vandoorne.

With the help of DRS, Vandoorne found his way past the Russian at Rettifilo on lap 11 only for Sirotkin to return the compliment the next time through the same chicane. The to-and-fro seemed set to continue the following lap, and as the pair fought it out Lynn sensed his opportunity to make a lunge down the inside - only to run into the side of the Rapax car and send them both off the track, Lynn himself coming with inches of getting flipped upside down in the process. Lynn was subsequently handed a five place grid penalty from the race stewards for Sunday's sprint race after being deemed to have caused an avoidable collision; the penalty was converted to a pit lane start as he was already due to take the green flag from too near the back of the grid to serve the penalty in full.

Sirotkin and Lynn's exit from the proceedings left Vandoorne in eighth and in the lead of those cars which had made their stops narrowly ahead of Rossi and Pic. The actual lead of the race had been passed to Stanaway with Artem Markelov (Russian Time) in hot pursuit, and the pair had a 27 second lead over Vandoorne and Rossi meaning that there was still a chance for them to make their pit stops and still come out in contention for the race win, especially as they would have the benefit of newer, faster option tyres for the closing laps.

Stanaway and Markelov made their stops at the end of lap 22 and Stanaway emerged back out on track just behind Pic. Next time round it was the turn of Norman Nato (Arden) and Rene Binder (MP Motorsport) to make their own stops from the lead, and then finally it was the turn of Andr? Negr?o (Arden) to complete the round of mandatory pit stops. It meant that the battle for position between Vandoorne and Rossi was now for the actual rather than theoretical lead, and Rossi immediately sprang into action and took advantage of his rival's older, now heavily worn tyres to make the decisive pass through Rettifilo to take control of proceedings with six laps remaining.

Some way behind Rossi and Vandoorne, Arthur Pic was grimly holding on to third place but his pace compared unfavourably to those cars now closing up fast behind him, led by Nato who had picked up a five second post-race penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Remarkably, Mitch Evans had charged his way up to fifth place after a remarkable comeback drive despite having being forced to start the race from the back of the grid after his exclusion from qualifying. At the start of the penultimate lap Evans then made it fourth place with a neat DRS-assisted pass on Nato through the first chicane. Once Nato's penalty was factored in, that meant the Kiwi was on course to join Rossi and Vandoorne on the podium.

An ailing Pic was unable to prevent Stanaway and Markelov from getting past him on the final lap for what became fourth and fifth places respectively once Nato's penalty was applied. That left Pic demoted to seventh place just ahead of Rossi's Racing Engineering team mate Jordan King, who had toughed out the race despite the early damage and been rewarded with the Sunday morning sprint race pole position under reverse grid rules.

The final points positions went to Rapax's Robert Visoiu and MP Motorsport's Rene Binder, with Sergio Canamasas (Lazarus) and Juli?n Leal (Carlin) just missing out. Their respective team mates, series newcomers Patric Niederhauser (Lazarus) and Jann Mardenborough (Carlin) were 17th and 19th, with Trident's Johnny Cecotto Jr. the meat in the sandwich in 18th after being hit with an early jump-start penalty.

The final race of the weekend, the 21-lap sprint race, will be on Sunday morning at 10.35am local time (9.35am BST). Before then there are the two GP3 races, with the 22-lap race 1 starting at 5.20pm (4.20pm BST) on Saturday and the shorter 17-lap race 2 tomorrow morning at 9.25am (8.25am BST).

See full Saturday afternoon GP2 feature race 1 results from Monza