Indian racing star gets top drive with reigning Champion team and also strengthens ties with Red Bull F1
New Delhi, 19th December 2007 ; India's Karun Chandhok has been signed up by the UK based I-Sport International team to compete in the 2008 GP2 series. In addition, Karun will also compete in the all new GP2 Asia series as a pre-cursor to the main championship. I-Sport secured both the Driver's as well as the Team's Championship in the 2007 GP2 series.
The 23 year old from Chennai has also been appointed on to the 'Red Bull Junior Team' program. This will strengthen his links with the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team for whom Karun had his debut Formula 1 test in November and will now open up more testing opportunities with the team in 2008.
Karun's team-mate for the 2008 season will be the highly rated Bruno Senna, the nephew of the legendary World Champion Ayrton Senna.
Karun had an impressive debut season with Durango in the 2007 GP2 series, becoming the first Indian GP2 race winner and scoring regular points through the second half of the year with a team that was not a recognized front runner. Speaking about his latest move, he said "Ever since the middle of the year I-Sport has been the most sought after drive on the grid. I know they've had nearly every GP2 driver on the grid chasing them for the drive and for them to have taken up the option to run me is a huge confidence boost. I enjoyed my time with Durango last year but when I tested with I-Sport soon after the last race of the season, right from the first few laps I knew that this was the team I wanted to be with. The guys in the team are real racers at heart. They have been very welcoming and we got along very well right from the first day. I'm really delighted and proud to be sitting here today as an I-Sport driver."
I-Sport International's Team Principal Paul Jackson spoke of his reasons for signing on the Indian "Karun had an impressive debut season and we initially got talking around the middle of the year about doing the GP2 Asia series. He tested with us in Jerez as part of our winter testing program to evaluate drivers for the future and we were all pleasantly surprised with how well he went especially in the race simulation run. What was very important for us was that Karun fitted in well with the mechanics and engineers very well and as a team we felt that we could certainly work well with him and have a successful season. The main European GP2 series is certainly the most important part of our program and the Asian series before that will be a good 'warm up' for him to understand our way of working before moving to Europe. I'm really glad we have concluded our deal and am now looking forward to a strong year ahead with Karun and Bruno."
On his continued association with Red Bull, Karun said "Red Bull have really been awesome to me since the start of our partnership. Helmut Marko, Christian Horner and everyone involved with Red Bull Austria and the F1 team have given their blessing to my deal with I-Sport and being a part of the Junior Team program has made our association stronger. They were pleased with what I did in the F1 car in Barcelona at my first test and I look forward to being a test driver for them again in 2008. I always said that my ideal scenario for 2008 would be to race with a top GP2 team and test for a good F1 team and this has now worked out well."
For 2008, the all new GP2 Asia series will start in Dubai at the end of January with 10 races including Formula 1 support races in Malaysia and Bahrain. The Asia series will be run using the older 2005-2007 specification cars while this year's main European GP2 series will see a brand new specification car powered by a 650 Bhp Renault engine capable of speeds of 330 kmh.
Karun spoke about his aims and paid tribute to his sponsors for their unstinted support "2008 is going to be the biggest challenge of my career. The aim is to have podiums, win races and to finish in the top 6 of the championship. The team and I both have the potential to do it and I really have to thank Red Bull, JK Tyre, Amaron and ICSA logistics for their incredible backing at this crucial time."