Indian racing ace Karun Chandhok put on a magnificent display, fighting from the back of the grid to finish 6th at the European GP2 sprint race at the Valencia street circuit. Chandhok fought his way through the field in an incident packed race which caused the safety car to be deployed three times in the first 8 laps. Chandhok had earlier failed to finish in the feature race due to a damaged steering arm.
Chandhok got his race weekend off to a great start by finishing 4th in the free practice session. He encountered traffic on his qualifying lap, but still managed to start in a strong 8th position for the feature race.
Chandhok made a good start and was running in 7th place till the first round of stops. He lost out in the pit stop and came out in 9th position, but managed a bold move on Davide Valsecchi into 8th. Running in 8th position and all set for the reverse pole, he suffered a broken suspension and had to retire.
The Ocean Racing Technology driver said, “We had a great start to the weekend finishing 4th in practice and were looking ready for a good qualifying position. Unfortunately traffic can be a problem here and we never got a perfect lap in. In the feature race we were looking good for a points finish but when I went to pass Valsecchi, we touched quite lightly which resulted in a broken front suspension soon after. I was very disappointed that we would be starting from the back of the grid rather than on the front row.”
The sprint race started off in chaotic fashion with Kamui Kobayashi tapping Luca Fillipi into a spin and causing the safety car to come out. Chandhok drove the first lap with maturity and picked his gaps in the chaos to move up 7 places on the opening lap.
The Indian ace had a problem with the accelerator getting stuck right from the start "It was really very difficult to drive because at every corner even when I'd lift off the throttle to brake, the car would still be pushing forward. I actually thought about retiring early on but after we got up to 12th I thought I'd keep battling to try and get a point. It really isn't a pleasant feeling going into corners which have walls close by on a street circuit with the throttle sticking open!"
Chandhok then passed Dani Clos to move further up to 12th before he pulled off outstanding moves on Javier Villa and David Rigon to move up to 7th. The street circuit has always been unfavourable to overtaking, but Chandhok found places to overtake where no one could before. He finally got into the points when Eduoardo Mortara was given a drive through penalty for an earlier incident. This was a fantastic ending to what was shaping out to be a tough weekend for the Chennai-born driver.
After driving one of his best races Chandhok commented, “This is probably one of the hardest races I have driven but it was fun. Starting 20th we knew we needed something special to finish in the points. Overtaking in Valencia is almost impossible but I was so pumped up that I took my chances and it paid off in the end. Without the throttle problem, I really think we could've got a couple more places.
I am definitely delighted with my drive but am hoping for more Spa next weekend. I got my first GP2 win there in 2007 and along with Monaco; it's one of my favourites.”
Chandhok also thanked his sponsors and added, “A big thanks to Punj Lloyd, JK Tyre and Amaron, who have been super. We're getting to a crucial time of the year where negotiations for next season are in full flow and their support is going to be instrumental.”