Romain Grosjean took the lead in the GP2 Asia standings with a dominant victory in the first race at Imola.
The DAMS driver commanded the race from the beginning, resisting an initial challenge from a fast-starting Giedo van der Garde (Addax) in the early laps, while front row starter Sam Bird messed up his getaway and immediately fell from second to eighth. Grosjean started to pull away from lap four onward, and he went on to take the win by more than 14 seconds.
Van der Garde took a solid second after making his way up from fifth on the grid on the run to the first corner on the opening lap. He appeared to be a match for Grosjean as he stuck to his tail at first, but in the end he had to settle for a lonely run to second.
Former points leader Jules Bianchi came home third for ART after a more eventful race. The Frenchman dropped to fifth at the start and was the meat in an Arden sandwich in the early laps as he battled with Josef Kral and Jolyon Palmer. But Palmer damaged his front wing early on when he clipped Bianchi on the run to Rivazza, and the Frenchman disposed of Kral at the end of lap six. That left him fourth behind Michael Herck, who he closed on before jumping the Coloni driver during the pit stops.
Herck had to settle for fourth, while Trident's Stefano Coletti put in an impressive drive to leap from 16th to fifth.
Davide Valsecchi survived a late off at Acque Minerali to hang on to sixth for AirAsia, while the points were completed by Fabio Leimer (Rapax) and Dani Clos (Racing Engineering). The Spaniard will take pole for Sunday's race after charging from 20th on the grid.
The drivers that came through from the lower end of the grid were aided by plenty of incidents involving early frontrunners. iSport teammates Bird and Marcus Ericsson were in the points prior to a collision with each other, while Kral and Palmer both fell back during the pit stops.
Kral's fortunes were not helped by a brutal scrap with ART's Esteban Gutierrez, who was himself trying to make up ground after going off while running ninth on lap five.