Kamui Kobayashi made it clear that he is the man to beat this year. The Japanese driver started from pole yesterday and gave DAMS its first victory this season’s Asian GP2 Series plus the fastest lap in the race: the French team now leads the championship. Jérôme d’Ambrosio also put on a good performance to finish seventh.
It looked on the cards in free practice and qualifying. The hard work done by DAMS since the Shanghai race bore fruit in Dubai. The team converted its Thursday pole into a victory winning this weekend’s main race and also confirmed its status as title favourite. The French squad’s scintillating form was underlined by Jérôme d’Ambrosio’s points-scoring seventh place after he started from the fifth row.
Kobayashi was full of confidence after his pole position yesterday and left his rivals no chance in today’s long race. He took the chequered flag with 14 secs in hand over the second-placed finisher. The promise he showed in China was brilliantly confirmed in Dubai, and he is now the man to beat in the championship. In the overall classification he leads Roldan Rodriguez by 3 points and David Valsecchi by seven.
Jérôme d’Ambrosio also drove a great race. He qualified in tenth place after Kobayashi held him up by accident in his last flying lap. He pushed hard with, in particular, a superb pass on Yamamoto and set the third-quickest time in the race. He finished seventh scoring 2 points, and above all he will start on the front row for the sprint event on Saturday.
This result confirms the DAMS team’s role as favourite for the 2008-09 title. Despite a late pit stop that dropped him back Kobayashi was so much quicker than his rivals on the Dubai circuit that he seemed to be on another planet. D’Ambrosio also proved his determination and ability to score points. Of course, this has to be confirmed on Saturday in the sprint race (start 10h00 local time).
Eric Boullier, team manager: “Champagne time! It’s a huge satisfaction for the whole team. After two victories last season we’ve opened our score thanks to Kamui. He dove a great race and he’s now leading the championship. It’s logical and well deserved. Jérôme too had a remarkable race. Despite a spin at the start of the event he fought his way up to seventh. It’s looking good for tomorrow’s sprint.”
Kamui Kobayashi: “I’m over the moon! The car was perfectly set up and I was able to go flat out. I came out of the pits behind Petrov and Rodriguez but I just felt so much at ease that I was able to pass them without problems. Things are going well. This win puts me in the championship lead and now I feel confident in my capacity to battle for the title.”
Jérôme d’Ambrosio: “What a race! At the start I pushed really hard and went off line and spun. I restarted in twenty-fourth place and the fact that I got back up to seventh gives me a lot of satisfaction. The car’s really great and it enabled me to set the third-quickest time in the race. Tomorrow, in the sprint event I have to repeat my performance today – but without the spin! - so I can fight for victory.”