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GP Week : Issue 43
GP2: King Kobayashi KAMUI Kobayashi was crowned GP2 Asia champion at the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, becoming the first Asian driver to win the GP2 Asia championship. A double-podium weekend for his team- mate Jerome d’Ambrosio saw the Belgian take second in the championship and complete a perfect GP2 Asia Series for the Dams team, who were crowned team champions and wrapped up the double for the first time since their F3000 season with Jean-Christophe Boullion in 1994. Although it was d’Ambrosio who took the fastest lap in qualifying, it was Kobayashi who lined up on pole position for the first race and took the two points for the pleasure of doing so, after d’Ambrosio was handed a 10-place grid penalty for his black flag at the previous weekend in Malaysia. But at the start of the race, Kobayashi bogged down allowing the two Piquet GP cars into a lead they never looked like losing. Diego Nunes led the field to his second win in two weekends, and with his team-mate Roldan Rodriguez taking a valuable second position, Piquet GP was hoisted into second position the teams championship. D’Ambrosio was the man to watch, however, as the Belgian blasted through the field and finished third after starting 11th. His team-mate took fourth and wrapped up the title as his closest rival Davide Valsecchi finished out of the points. The reverse grid on Sunday saw Arden’s Luiz Razia start from pole, and the Brazilian was simply imperious around the Bahrain International Circuit, overcoming a Safety Car period to finish the GP2 Asia Series in style with his first GP2 Asia win. But it was once again the mighty d’Ambrosio who impressed the most. Needing six points to snatch second position in the championship he duly blasted up from sixth to third, and with two laps left to run overtook the outstanding David Rigon for second position. Having set the fastest lap, and with his only rival for second in the championship, Rodriguez, being forced into an early shower after a collision at the first corner, second in the championship went to the Belgian. Dams’success has given the team real hope of translating their GP2 Asia pace into an assault on the main series title in 2009. Starting in two weeks’time in Barcelona, they are the in form team, and will be the ones to beat when GP2 kicks off for real in Spain. 30