Ocean Racing Technology (ORT) secured a top driver contract for the GP2 Main Series with Indian driver Karun Chandhok joining forces with the Portuguese team, making him the first driver confirmed for the outfit directed by former Formula One driver Tiago Monteiro.
Chandhok has two seasons in the series under his belt, which saw him secure several podium finishes and therefore brings great experience with him that will be decisive for the all new team in the GP2 Main Series.
"It is very important for Ocean Racing Technology to guarantee the presence of a talented driver such as Karun Chandhok. He is fast, a hard worker and already has some great results on different kinds of tracks. From what we hear, he always had an excellent working relationship with engineers and team principals that he has previously worked with and has won two races in the GP2 Main Series. It is extremely positive that he signed this contract well before the championship starts because this way we can immediately begin work for the Main Series.
"For us, it is important that an experienced and fast driver like Karun puts his confidence in Ocean Racing Technology, which is a very young team. He is the driver we need to achieve our goals, which are to be competitive right away and consistently into the points," Monteiro said.
In 2007, Chandhok triumphed in Spa, one of the most demanding circuits of the season, in just his first year in the championship with the Italian Durango team.
In 2008, he raced with iSport International where he established himself as a front-runner with several good races, the highlight being victory at Hockenheim. He also received a distinction at the end of the year for the "Best driving style" voted by the fans of the series. Previous to that, Chandhok became the 2006 Asian Renault V6 Champion and was also at the front in British Formula 3 after becoming the Formula Asia Champion in 2001.
ORT is a new team in the GP2 series for 2009. It is the first Portuguese race team to compete in GP2 and is based at the all new Algarve Circuit in Portugal. Shedding light on his reasons for signing with ORT, Chandhok said, "I'm very happy to have concluded a deal with Ocean Racing Technology. I've known Tiago for a few years now since we briefly raced together in World Series and of course he was Narain [Karthikeyan]'s team-mate at Jordan. I really believe that having an ex-F1 driver running a team is a big plus as he understands what is needed from our perspective."
Chandhok's move to an entirely new team comes as a surprise to many established names in the GP2 paddock
"Of course, going to a new team is always a bit of a gamble for a driver. Any new team will take some time to get fully up to speed and it's slightly unrealistic to think we are going to be Championship contenders, but certainly the objective is to win races this year. Isport was a very good team but we could not conclude a suitable financial agreement and have parted ways on good terms. My experience with them will certainly be of benefit as I work to develop ORT into a front running team."
"Tiago and his partner Jose Guedes made us a great offer in terms of a technical and financial package and we were able to agree terms quite easily. The engineers who have joined ORT, Nigel Clyde and Tom Davis are good people that I have known for a while and I am confident that together we can all work to be successful this year," Chandhok added.
The first races of the GP2 Main Series will begin in Barcelona on May 9.
Speaking about his preparations for the season ahead Chandhok said "Not doing GP2 Asia this year has actually been quite good for me. Last year was quite exhausting and it has been nice to take some time off over the winter. I have had time to train and prepare better than ever before -- I was even in the gym till 9pm on New Year's eve! I have already spent some time in Portugal with the engineers and we will have six days of testing in Paul Ricard and Barcelona before the season starts which will be incredibly important for the team and me to learn about each other."
2009 GP2 Calendar
9th / 10th May: Barcelona, Spain
23rd / 24th May: Monaco
6th / 7th June: Istanbul, Turkey
20th / 21st June: Silverstone, England
11th / 12th July: Nuerburgring, Germany
25th / 26th July: Budapest, Hungary
22nd / 23rd August: Valencia, Spain
29th / 30th August: Spa, Belgium
12th / 13th September: Monza, Italy
19th / 20th September: Algarve, Portugal