GP2 Asia: Kobayashi is series champion in DAMS lock-out

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarTuesday, April 28th, 2009

 
 

DAMS drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Jerome d’Ambrosio secured a one-two in this year’s GP2 Asia championship in Bahrain, as well as a constructors’ title for their team.

The victories came on a subdued weekend for the Toyota tester who took the title despite scoring fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the two races.

Supernova’s James Jakes, the sole British driver in the series, finished the season in joint 15th place with the much more experienced Pastor Maldonado, having put seven points on his team’s scorecard.

At the beginning of the season’s final weekend, Kobayashi was on course to win the championship after taking pole position in a qualifying session that saw fastest driver and DAMS team-mate Jerome d’Ambrosio demoted 10 places following a black flag in the Sepang sprint race.

Kobayashi does enough despite poor start

Kobayashi made a poor start to the feature race, allowing Piquet drivers Diego Nunes and Roldan Rodriguez past. That set the tone for the entire race and the pair held the lead until the chequered flag, delivering their team a one-two finish.

The result of that was a welcome eighteen points in the constructors’ championship which moved Piquet up to second place, four points clear of their nearest rival, Campos.

D’Ambrosio recovered from a ten-place grid penalty to finish on the podium, overtaking iSport’s Giedo van der Garde, Arden’s Luiz Razia and finally his teammate for third place, while setting the fastest lap time – awarding DAMS the teams’ title despite Piquet’s best efforts.

Van der Garde finished fifth ahead of ART’s Sakon Yamamoto, who led for a couple of laps as he pitted later than the leaders. Trident’s Davide Rigon also pitted late and benefited from fresh tyres to pass first BCN’s Karun Chandhok and then Razia who started on the reversed pole in the sprint race.

Kobayashi’s P4 was enough to secure him the championship – leaving the runner’s up position wide open with four men still in contention.

Jakes, having qualified 14th, finished the race in 10th position.

D’Ambrosio’s sprint race blast

In the sprint race d’ Ambrosio startied from sixth place but immediately moved up to fourth, set a fastest laptime, overtook Sakon ART’s Yamamoto and finally, in the closing stages of the race, passed Trident’s Davide Rigon to take six points and become championship runner-up.

During a chaotic start Razia managed an untroubled launch while Rodriguez and Durango’s Davide Valsecchi were simultaneously taken out by Karun Chandhok and Pastor Maldonado.

In the same incident, FMS’ Rodolfo Gonzalez also made contact and the five cars stopped on the track, leading to the safety car being deployed on the very first lap.

At the restart, Razia managed to keep his lead and was never to be caught by a slower Rigon. Behind them, d’Ambrosio passed Yamamoto for third place.

But the Belgian still had work to do. Conscious of his tyres, d’Ambrosio waited until the penultimate lap to take Rigon, adding another podium-finish to his season and scoring enough points to be declared Vice-Champion.

Razia claimed a maiden win, while Rigon bagged his first podium for Trident. Yamamoto finished fourth with Kobayashi fifth and Nunes sixth.

Jakes finished the race 14th. He says on his website that he had “an interesting but consistent finish the season at a tough and extremely hot Sakhir circuit in the Kingdom of Bahrain, again in front of the watching Formula One teams and fans.

“James finished around the mid table from free practice through to Sunday’s race two.

“Although no points were gained, [he] again showed he is now fully up to speed with the GP2 racing style and determination, which will stand him in good stead should a driver in the main GP2 season become available in the future.”

GP2 season launches in Spain

The first race of the main GP2 season follows on directly, with the starting grid lining up at the Circuit de Catalunya, as a support event for the Spanish Grand Prix, on the weekend of May 9.

There is, as yet, no British driver taking part in the series, which is a disappointment given that it is marketed as the premier feeder series for Formula One. But there is an outside chance that might change.

At time of writing we believe three drives are still unfilled – two with Trident Racing and one with British outfit David Price Racing (though if anyone knows better, please tell us).

Yorkshireman Jakes tested for DPR in March and says on his website: “Looking forward James is hopeful of a seat in what many describe as the main GP2 championship, the European leg.”

Here’s hoping he gets the drive – he’d better, or we’ll be struggling to write race reports all season… :D

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