CHANDHOK FLIES THE FLAG IN DUBAI Indian star celebrates Republic day with podium in GP2 Asia India's Karun Chandhok demonstrated his frontrunning form in the first-ever GP2 Asia Series race weekend at Dubai Autodrome with iSport ...
CHANDHOK FLIES THE FLAG IN DUBAI
Indian star celebrates Republic day with podium in GP2 Asia
India's Karun Chandhok demonstrated his frontrunning form in the first-ever GP2 Asia Series race weekend at Dubai Autodrome with iSport International, scoring points in both races and finishing on the podium in the sprint event.
Karun battled against adversity all week, as technical problems and a big crash in the pre-event test sessions put him on the back foot. The 24-year- old from Chennai was also struggling with an extreme fever throughout the race weekend, which resulted in sleepless nights and less than ideal health for two long races against a super competitive field.
Despite this, he qualified fourth, on the second row of the grid, and only dropped off the front row in the very final seconds of the session. "I dropped a tenth of a second at the final corner of my best lap," he said. "If it wasn't for that, I'd be on the front row for sure."
The start of the feature race did not go to plan, as the start lights flashed on and off incredibly quickly, causing Karun to lose a place to Luca Filippi (Meritus). That meant he spent the first past of the race sat behind the Italian, so he decided to pit early to try and get ahead of him.
But disaster struck as he rejoined, and he spun on cold tyres at Turn 1, losing valuable time and places. He would then get bottled up behind Filippi's team-mate Hiroki Yoshimoto. The Japanese driver was so slow that his early braking point for the hairpin caught Karun out, and he locked up his rear wheels at the hairpin and spun again. He would recover to finish in the points in eighth position. "It was just a frustrating race," he said. "So many things just didn't work out, and I just missed out on taking the point for fastest lap too. I'm determined to make up for it tomorrow. At the end of the day, there's no doubt that we are fast - only Grosjean, Senna and I were able to lap in the mid 1m 22s range and everyone else is at least 5 tenths behind us."
That should have resulted in him starting the reverse grid sprint race from pole position, but seventh placed Sebastien Buemi (Arden) was excluded for a technical irregularity. This gave Karun an extra point for seventh, but put him on the dirty side of the track, and gave pole instead to Fairuz Fauzy (Super Nova).
The start was even worse than Friday's race, as a clutch problem meant that it took Karun three attempts to persuade his car to get off the line. He dropped back to seventh by Turn 1 but, amazingly, he recovered back to fourth by the end of the opening tour. He was powerless to keep Friday winner Romain Grosjean (ART) behind him after a restart from a safety car, however: "We just can't seem to generate the heat in our tyres as well as he can," he said. "I weaved about as much as I could behind the safety car, but there was just no grip when I needed it to defend my place."
After holding off an attack from Andy Soucek (DPR), Karun charged after Yoshimoto and passed him with the best move of the day: around the outside of him at the Turn 10 hairpin: "I was a bit irritated to be stuck behind him again after yesterday, so when he defended the inside I went for the outside. I was pleased it came off, and I believe it looked good on the TV as well !! I don't know if we actually touched or not, but it was close."
The Indian driver started to rapidly close down Fairuz Fauzy in second place but started suffering with gear selection problems. "I was missing second and third gear in the closing stages, so I just wanted to bring it home and get on the podium. It's a shame because I was easily half a second faster than Fauzy but everytime I started to close I would miss another gear and it would drop me back again" he said.
The I-Sport International driver paid tribute to his team "It's been a tough week for the team with the heavy schedule of testing and the race weekend. Bruno ( Senna ) and I worked really well with the engineers to move forward and in the end we were both very competitive. I really have to thank the guys at I-Sport for all their work and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season more than I was a few weeks ago."
Chandhok, who is backed by Red Bull, JK Tyre, Amaron and ICSA Logistics is now joint-third in the championship, having scored six points from the opening two races.
The series now moves on to Sentul in Indonesia on February 15/16th. Karun said: "Sentul is a track that promotes overtaking, but it is very bumpy and has not been resurfaced for a while. The weather can be quite interesting there too, so I'm looking forward to it. I believe we will be strong there."