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Chandhok wins first F3 race
Shobha Warrier | April 08, 2003 21:36 IST
Karun Chandhok, India's racing sensation started his campaign at the British Formula 3 championship (Scholarship class) at Donington Park in England this weekend with a fantastic win at the opening round.
This was Karun's first Formula 3 win of his career. It was followed up by a fighting second place in Race 2, which now makes him the first Indian to lead an International Formula 3 championship.
If Karun and his 'T-Sport' team, were contenders for the podium all through the second half of last year, this year, he has improved upon his last year's performance and begun with a convincing win.
Before the championship, Karun had said, "There's no reason why we can't fight for wins and the championship this year. We've done over 3000 km of testing so far this year on various circuits. It's all a bit more comfortable this year for sure because I know where I'm going. It feels good to have done some proper testing and not just going round and round learning the circuits!!"
The results of the first two races show he is on the 'right track'.
Though he won the race, the 19-year-old's weekend did not have the best start. He missed the majority of the test session due to a clutch problem which resulted in him and the team guessing the set-up for qualifying. Qualifying started off on a positive note when Chandhok qualified third for race 1. In second qualifying 2, he struggled with an imbalance in the car and ended in fifth position on the grid for race 2.
Once the race began, it was a totally different Karun who was in control. His start for Race 1 was stunning and he gained four places into the first corner, including making his way past three Championship class cars. On lap 3, race leader Ernesto Viso made a mistake and spun off, which pushed Chandhok into the lead. From then on, he drove consistently and maturely to finish the race ahead of a significant number of Championship class cars, almost two seconds ahead of Christian England.
A delighted Chandhok said later: "I'm really happy to have scored the first win. The team at T-Sport and I have worked really hard to get to where we are today and this makes it all worth it."
In race 2, Karun lost ground while trying to avoid Christian England, who stalled on the start line but was soon moving up the order, passing Justin Sherwood on lap 1 and then Ivor McCullough in a brave move around the outside at Redgate corner on lap 3. A lap later Ernesto Viso made another error, which resulted in the T-Sport duo, Steven Kane and Karun Chandhok moving up to first and second position, where they stayed till the end.
Before the championship started itself, Karun had named his team-mate Steven Kane (junior Formula Ford champion and McLaren-Autosport award winner), Christian England (runner-up in the Formula Ford championship) and Ernesto Viso (Formula Renault front runner ) as his main rivals, and the results also confirmed his view.
At the end of the weekend, Chandhok gave his thoughts on being the Championship leader.
"It's the perfect start to the season. After qualifying, we thought that if we scored two podiums and some good points, it'll be a good result for the weekend, but this is much better!! The car worked really well today and I have to thank all the guys at T-Sport who did a super job. For sure, it feels good to lead the championship but there's still a long way to go with a lot of hard work yet to be done, so we need to be realistic and continue making progress as the year goes on."
Race 1 -- 1. Karun Chandhok 22:10.325, 2. Christian England + 1.9s, 3. Steven Kane + 9.7s
Race 2 -- 1. Steven Kane 22:05.60, 2. Karun Chandhok + 9.5s, 3. Ivor McCullough + 10s