First podium for ORT as Chandhok finds form
22 June 2009
GP2 Series newcomer Ocean Racing Technology should have won the sprint round at last month's Monaco meeting, but gained some recompense as Karun Chandhok, whose driveshaft failure ruined the dream, claimed third place in the corresponding Silverstone race.
Having finished sixth in Saturday's feature race, the Indian made the most of the reversed top eight to chase Pastor Maldonado and Andreas Zuber to the flag in Sunday morning's British Grand Prix warm-up event, all the while keeping points leader Romain Grosjean at bay.
Chandhok got his weekend off to a strong start by finishing third in the lone half-hour practice session, and was looking good going into qualifying, only to be caught out by the traffic that many drivers complained about and have to settle for eleventh on a circuit where, with overtaking remaining difficult, he felt he should have been safely in the top five.
"I really got messed up with traffic," he sighed, "[Diego] Nunes blocked me twice and [Davide] Valsecchi once on my best laps when I was on course for fourth place. They both got penalised after qualifying, but it didn't really help me."
Despite facing an uphill task in Saturday's main event, Chandhok made a fantastic start and was already into six by the end of the first lap. He had moved up to fourth as the pit-stops began to cycle through, but a sticky rear wheel nut denied him the chance to make the position permanent as he lost three places by the time he rejoined. Although he then passed Zuber by out-braking the Austrian around the outside into Stowe, and was all over the back a struggling Grosjean, the Indian had to settle for sixth at flag.
"Our pace was very strong and, if not for a jammed wheel nut, we would have easily be two places up [the order]," he insisted, "Perez and Grosjean just drove past me when I was exiting the pits. I pushed like hell with Grosjean, and we had a great battle, but ruined my front tyres in doing so.
"After our misfortune in qualifying, I am totally satisfied with this result. We have lost so many points since the beginning of the season - points that were within our grasp - that it's a genuine pleasure to secure some again. The car was efficient and I was able to keep up with the frontrunners but, having caught up with Grosjean, my tyres started to become seriously degraded and it was impossible to attack him."
Despite then having Grosjean all over him in Sunday's sprint - the Frenchman determined to atone for converting race one pole into fifth place - Chandhok held firm in the sprint to join Maldonado and Zuber on the podium, giving ORT its first GP2 silverware in only its seventh race weekend.
"I was as quick as the guys in front early on, but started to struggle with traction in the slower corners, so I decided to just make sure I looked after the car till the end," he commented, "It feels really good to be on the podium again at Silverstone. It's a good present for my dad on father's day and also a great day for Tiago and the boys at ORT.
"The team has definitely made a lot of progress since the start of the season and, finally, I believe our luck has changed. I am now looking forward to some days off in India and then the rest of the season, starting in Germany."
For ORT co-owners José Guedes and Tiago Monteiro, the Silverstone podium was 'a result that was well deserved - and coming for a while'.
"We always proved that we had what it takes to get good results, and even fight for the win, and this result is a reward for the team's hard work, from the technical team to the drivers," they claimed, "Every member plays an important role in the performance of our cars, and we hope that this result will mark the end of our misfortunes."