Dubai, Jan 26 (UNI) Putting behind yesterday's disappointing show, India's Karun Chandok overcame clutch and gear problems to celebrate the country's Republic Day in style at the Dubai Autodrome with a creditable podium finish in Race two of the GP2 Asia series, which was won by French man Romain Grosjean here today.
In a race in which seven drivers, including India's Armaan Ebrahim crashed out, Chandok, who had finished a poor seventh in the Race 1, survived a disastrous start in a very tough field.
From the very start he held on to the fourth place till the 17th lap and then maneouvered brilliantly to move up to the third place but by that time Romain Grosjean had overtaken other drivers to lead the field and Malaysia's Faruz Fauzy desperately held on to his second slot denying the Indian any chance going any further.
The 24-year-old Chennai based driver, who was suffering from throat infection, seemed to have learnt from his yesterday's mistake, as he held on to his nerves and drove bravely to start the GP2 Asia series on a satisfying note.
However, his team-mate Bruno Senna who had finished second yesterday, was unlucky this afternoon as his car tyre got punctured in the 17th lap and he finished 19th.
Chandok timed 43:38.965 while Grosjean clocked 43:32.991 and Fauzy returned 43:36.769. The Indian's fastest lap was the 26th in which he clocked 1:22.978.
''I had a disasterous start,'' said Chandok after the race.
''I had problems with the clutch and then midway through gears stated creating problems.
''I had the chance to finish second but that was not to be because of these problems, but overall I am satisfied and optimistic because to start the series with a podium finish is not bad,'' he said.
The Indian exuded confidence that his performance will improve in the forthcoming races. ''I should do well from now on wards, I managed a good start and now I will like to improve upon it,'' the 24-year-old said.
Armaan Ebrahim who failed to finish was disappointed.
''The car gave problems and I had to drop out after 19th lap,'' he said.
Chandok's performance came for praise from Raghupati Singhania, Managing Director of JK tyres.
He said,''I am happy with Chandok's performance. I am confident he will do better in the forthcoming races and will end the series on a winning note.'' Singhania, who specially flew here today to watch Chandok's race, added ''I am happy that Indian drivers have started making their mark in the international races. It is a good omen and Chandok has given a good present to his country on Republic Day.'' Race winner Grosjean was candid enough to admit that his victory was unexpected.
''I was not expecting to win as I started from the eight,'' he said, but added ''It is always a great feeling to have top podium finish. This was a crazy week, which included four days of testing, but I am happy with my showing and I had a good car to drive.'' UNI XC HSB RAR HS1748