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Rodriguez wins as Kobayashi pushes too hard

NEWS STORY
18/10/2008

DAMS' Kamui Kobayashi may have been the quickest man on track today in the opening race of the 2008/2009 GP2 Asia Series, but it was Roldan Rodriguez who claimed victory at the end of the 34 laps after the Japanese driver went too wide in the closing stages of the event.

When the lights went out, pole-man Rodriguez made a good start and kept Kobayashi at bay. However, at the wheel of a very competitive DAMS car, the Japanese ace soon put pressure on the Spaniard and took the lead at the end of the first lap. He then drove a clean and consistent race, posting best lap-time, until Lap 29 when he went off line in turn 1. Although he managed to continue, Rodriguez took the lead and crossed the finish line in first position, snatching his first GP2 win.

The race saw two safety cars, the first one after Sergio Perez stopped in the middle of the track. That's when the leaders decided to pit, Kobayashi keeping the lead even after the restart. The second safety car was deployed after Sekigushi tried to overtake Filippi. The Japanese driver and the Italian clashed and both men had to retire. Once the track was cleared, Kobayashi managed to keep Rodriguez at bay and even tried to extend the gap. However, he pushed a little too hard, almost lost control of his car and the Spaniard took victory.

Behind them, Sakon Yamamoto enjoyed his first GP2 podium, taking third place after he overtook Villa on the first lap. But the best start of the race definitely goes to rookie Earl Bamber. Starting from 9th, the young New Zealander moved up to 6th and managed to maintain the pace and finish in that same position. He was followed by another impressive rookie, Chris Van der Drift, who benefited from a good strategy and a great driving style to start from 16th and end up in the points in 7th.

The fight for 8th place in true GP2 style, with four drivers fighting it out and Valsecchi eventually coming out on top. The Italian will start from pole position tomorrow on the reversed grid.

Roldan Rodriguez (Piquet GP) Winner: "I'm very happy! I pushed all the way and made no mistake. On the first lap, Kamui braked later than me. I saw him far from me and when I looked again he was on my side. I chose to let him through rather than close the door and maybe crash. We pitted at the perfect time: the team made a great job. For tomorrow, I will start 8. I will adopt the same strategy: do the best I can. Of course, I will try and go for a podium. I want to leave Shanghai as the leader of the GP2 Asia Series and go home with two trophees."

Kamui Kobayashi (Dams) 2nd: "It's my fault. I made a mistake, I know it and it's very frustrating. I had the fastest car, but with the safety car deployed twice, I had to push hard to try and extend the gap with Rodriguez. In the end, a second place is not a bad thing: it's always good points, but I know I can win races and that's my unique goal."

Sakon Yamamoto (ART Grand Prix) 3rd: "I made a good start. At turn 14, I overtook Villa. I braked as late as possible and it worked. After that, I tried to catch the leaders, but my running pace was not enough to close the gap. We had a great pit stop and I kept my position. I'm happy to have finished third for this race. It's a good place to start the championship."

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