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Chandhok topples time sheets at test session

Karun was the fastest on the first and fourth quickest on the second day of the test session.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Chennai
UPDATED ON MAR 15, 2008 05:14 PM IST

India's Karun Chandhok started his warm-up session for the next weekend's GP2 races in Kuala Lumpur on a perfect note by topping time sheets at the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet near Marseille, France during the two-day test session.

Karun was the fastest on the first and fourth quickest on the second day of the test session that concluded on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Chennai lad, who is backed by Red Bull, JK Tyre, Amaron and ICSA Logistics, had suffered a trying time in the previous two test sessions with his new iSport International car, as numerous technical issues had hindered his track time.

"It was a big relief to have a problem-free test at last," said Chandhok. "I always believed that I would be on the pace when we had ironed out these teething problems, and I finally got to prove it."

"The team and I have really been working hard to fix the problems and it was nice to finally get down to working on setup changes. My engineer Richard Selwin and I worked through a good programme that has given us a better understanding of the new car for the main series. Even I have a good relationship with my team-mate Bruno Senna and this I think is helping us as a team," he added.

Despite tricky weather conditions prevalent due to high winds Wednesday, Chandhok lapped the Paul Ricard circuit in one minute and 12.717 seconds. He ended the day nearly a tenth of a second clear of Piquet Sports driver Pastor Maldonado, while the current GP2 Asia series leader Romain Grosjean finished third.

On day two Thursday, the teams had to change the set-up of their cars overnight in order to run in high down force specification. But Chandhok adapted well to the first test with the car, lapping a different, twistier layout of the track in one minute and 10.210 seconds, which was less than two-tenths off the pace, thereby securing him the fourth place.

"These two days of testing have put us in a good position ahead of the season opener. We got through a great amount of work including some qualifying and race simulations as well as some pitstop practices. I do feel that we have taken a step forward with the new GP2 car, but at the moment, it still looks like there are at least 14 drivers who could potentially win races this year," Chamdhok said after the second day testing.

The main GP2 Series starts in Barcelona on April 26-27 supporting the Spanish Grand Prix. However, Chandhok's next race will be the third round of GP2 Asia in Sepang, supporting the Malaysian Grand Prix on March 22-23.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Chandhok said: "Sepang is a great circuit and one that I have really enjoyed racing on in the past. It's nice to finish the European tests well as a bit of a confidence boost ahead of next weekend's race."

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