Karun finishes 13th in debut GP2 season

Valencia, Spain, Oct 1 (UNI) Ace Indian driver Karun Chandhok ended his debut season of the GP2 series on a positive note with a point for fastest lap in Race One here besides collecting the award for the Most Improved Driver of the Year.

Karun's 13th-place finish, four places ahead of his team-mate Borja Garcia, earned him a test with the 2007 Champion team I-Sport International.

''It was an extraordinarily close qualifying session,'' he explained.

''We were way down in 21st in the practice session and had to change the car a lot before qualifying. Things were much better in the qualification but the times are so close -- I lost three-tenths on my best lap and that would've been around seventh, so we definitely have the pace,'' he said.

''In fact, one-tenth would have moved us up four places.'' The feature race started in wet conditions, something new for the Indian driver who, apart from a few laps at the Nurburgring in practice, has never driven the GP2 car in the wet before.

Despite this, by the end of lap one, Karun had moved up into the 10th place but then started to suffer as the rear brakes got glaced, which meant that effectively he only had use of the front brakes.

This caused him to go off the circuit twice and drop out of contention. As the track dried up, the team and driver elected to carry on using the race as a testing opportunity and it paid off as Karun set the fastest lap of the race on lap 42 and earned himself another Championship point.

Starting down in 17th place, based on the results of race one, the final race of the year was a fairly processional affair, where Karun was caught in a train following Andreas Zuber, championship runners-up Lucas di Grassi and with Bruno Senna and Adam Carroll behind.

After a small mistake dropped him back a couple places, Karun then collided with the Finn Marcus Niemala while trying to regain ground, putting an end to his race.

Reflecting on the year gone by, Karun said, ''All in all, it's been a good year. Things have sort of gone to plan in that I had said we wanted to learn in the first half and then score points and a podium or two in the second half.'' ''Since, Budapest in the middle of the year we have scored points every weekend and to be given the award for the Most Improved Driver of the Year shows that the people in the know also have recognized the progress we've made.

''I'm really looking forward to testing with I-Sport soon. They sealed both the driver's and team's championships this year and are obviously a very good team. I must thank everyone at Durango for a very educational and enjoyable season. On the whole it's been a very good year for me to establish myself in the premier category outside of Formula One,'' said the 23-year-old from Chennai.

''Without the support of Red Bull, JK Tyre, Amaron and ICSA we would not have been here and my thanks to them for being there for me once again. There are several options ahead of us for 2008 and I hope that things will all work itself out in the next three-four weeks.'' UNI

Story first published: Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 15:27 [IST]
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