Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service
Fabio Leimer converted his dominance during practice and qualifying for the second round of the GP2 season at Sakhir into a victory in the feature race.
The Swiss driver was followed across the line by his early championship rival Stefano Coletti, while Alexander Rossi drove a great race to secure a podium finish on his proper series debut.
Leimer, who had claimed pole position by nearly a second, was attacked by the fast-starting Coletti at the start of the race but held onto his lead. He enjoyed a clean pitstop to remain ahead of his Monegasque rival and was comfortable once regaining the race lead when everyone had completed their stops.
He seemed to ease off towards the end, crossing the line with a 1.9 second advantage to claim his second successive feature race win. Coletti?s second place has resulted in he and Leimer now tied for the championship lead on 54 points.
Sam Bird moved into third place with a lightning start ahead of Felipe Nasr, but the pair both suffered from slow pitstops when they came in together to change tyres, dropping them down the order.
Making his first start in the main series with Caterham, Rossi also had a good start and was up into fifth though was soon passed by Jolyon Palmer. An early stop paid dividends for him though, as he got back ahead of Palmer as well as Bird and Nasr to claim third on the road.
As his tyres faded he came under pressure from a charging Nasr late on, but managed to hold on to his podium spot. Nasr had managed to get back ahead of Palmer for fourth with a few laps remaining and get the upper hand on his Carlin teammate. Bird struggled with tyres late-on and finished 13 seconds behind fellow Brit Palmer.
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs was out front for a while after starting on the harder tyre and running seventh during the early stages. Once he made his stop he rejoined in ninth behind fellow late-stopper Tom Dillmann, who he quickly managed to pass, before reeling in and overtaking Simon Trummer for seventh.
Dillmann also got by Trummer and was right on Quaife-Hobbs? tail at the very end but had to make to with eighth place. That gives him reverse grid for the sprint race, where he?ll hope to repeat his victory from last year?s stand-alone round at the Bahrain track.
Trummer finished ninth and Johnny Cecotto completed the top ten after passing Kevin Ceccon on the final lap.
Stephane Richelmi and Robin Frijns had been fighting over the final points places when series debutant Frijns clattered into the DAMS driver, damaging both cars and picking up a drive-through penalty for himself.
James Calado lacked pace in his ART machine and could do no better than 12th after starting from near the back due to a grid penalty. One place further back at the finish was Marcus Ericsson, who squandered his front-row grid slot when he failed to get away for the warm-up lap.
|1||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||32 laps in 57:21.528|
|3||Alexander Rossi||Caterham Racing||+9.030|
|6||Sam Bird||Russian Time||+28.518|
|7||Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||MP Motorsport||+33.067|
|8||Tom Dillmann||Russian Time||+33.589|
|10||Johnny Cecotto||Arden International||+37.459|
|11||Kevin Ceccon||Trident Racing||+42.502|
|12||James Calado||ART Grand Prix||+48.084|
|14||Daniel Abt||ART Grand Prix||+53.482|
|15||Rio Haryanto||Barwa Addax Team||+59.146|
|16||Jake Rosenzweig||Barwa Addax Team||+65.997|
|17||Nathanael Berthon||Trident Racing||+70.696|
|18||Rene Binder||Venezuela GP Lazarus||+71.776|
|19||Julian Leal||Racing Engineering||+79.886|
|20||Sergio Canamasas||Caterham Racing||+80.456|
|21||Robin Frijns||Hilmer Motorsport||+ 1 lap|
|Kevin Giovesi||Venezuela GP Lazarus||27 laps|
|Mitch Evans||Arden International||25 laps|
|Stephane Richelmi||DAMS||20 laps|
|Pal Varhaug||Hilmer Motorsport||4 laps|
|Daniel De Jong||MP Motorsport||1 laps|