Fate in the form of a freak rain storm played into the hands of fast-rising young New Zealand racing driver Earl Bamber (My Qi-Meritus.Mahara) at the second round of the 2008/09 GP2 Asia Series in Dubai over the weekend.

After stunning the European-dominated paddock by topping the time sheets in practice the 18-year-old from Wanganui suffered his first setback in qualifying when he didn't get the gain he was expecting after the first tyre change.

Though he was quickest early on in the session he slipped down the order to 16th, the result - as it turned out - of as problem with one of the tyres in the new set.

The second setback came in the first race of the weekend on Saturday when, after working his way up to ninth place, the young Kiwi lost time in the compulsory pit stop when his team was forced to replace another problematic tyre, then - after making it back up to eighth place - he was slowed and eventually stopped by what turned out to be a broken fuel pick up pipe in his car's fuel tank.

That night however it rained and rained, the deluge - an understandably rare occurence in Dubai - flooding the pit area and much of the track, forcing the organisers to cancel Sunday's race.

The result was that despite being credited with finishing just 20th in the first race Bamber has only slipped one place in the overall series points standings to fifth with four rounds of the 2008/09 GP2 Asia series still to go.

Qualifying and the first race turned out to be a benefit for Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese driver dominated qualifying and won Saturday's race after losing an early lead to Russian Vitaly in the pits and later being caught and passed by fastest round one qualifier and race one winner Roldan Rodriguez.

However Kobayashi fought back, setting the fastest race lap as he caught, passed and eventually pulled away from Rodriguez who ended up third after another late pass, this time from first round second race winner Davide Valsecchi.

Kobayashi now leads the points standings with 22 points from Rodriguez with 19, Valsecchi, 15, Javier Villa 10 and Bamber with 8.

The next round of the 2008/09 GP2 Asia Series is in the New Year, at Bahrain over the January 23/24 weekend.

-credit: eb