Fresh from his Formula 1 testing duties in Portugal, Kamui Kobayashi turned up in Bahrain and won the GP2 Asia feature race with ease.
Nico H?â??lkenberg, making his GP2 Asia debut, qualified on pole position and kept his lead through the first corner.
But Kobayashi was quickly on his tail and while the two pulled away from the rest it was clear the Japanese driver had the pace to pass. H?â??lkenberg was locking tyres, missing apices and visibly losing time to his DAMS rivals.
Their absorbing duel continued for 13 laps, when Kobayashi suddenly sprang an attack. He launched down the inside of H?â??lkrnberg’s ART car at the first corner from some distance back, cleanly taking the lead of the race.
Four laps later H?â??lkenberg made his compulsory pit stop but ran into problems as his left rear wheel stuck. That cost him second place to Jerome d’Ambrosio and third place to Edoardo Mortara.
Further back Javier Villa and Sergio Perez were duelling frantically. First they touched wheels on the back straight as Perez employed some rather over-robust tactics in his attempts to keep Villa behind. A few laps later Perez hit back, and lined Villa up neatly for a pass down the back straight.
H?â??lkenberg caught Mortara and set about trying to pass, but Mortara appeared to have borrowed all of Perez’s defensive tactics and added a few of his own. That gave Roldan Rodriguez the chance to attack H?â??lkenberg, but the status quo was maintained until the end of the race.
Kobayashi and d’Ambrosio made it a one-two for DAMS, with Mortara completing the podium. H?â??lkenberg took fourth, with Davide Valsecchi passing Rodriguez for fifth. The final points scorers were Giedo van der Garde and Perez.
Kobayashi therefore extends his championship lead and now has 33 points, with Rodriguez on 22.
The sprint race at Bahrain follows tomorrow, with Perez on pole position courtesy of his eighth place.