Motorsports Mondial

KC and the Indian band

Karun. In the steps of Narain

Spa-Francorchamps, 2007: Then 23-year old Karun Chandok makes history by becoming the first Indian driver ever to win a GP2 race. The following year he would win again, this time at Hockenheimring.

All indications point to Chandok making the grid in Bahrain to begin his Formula 1 career. He would be the second Indian to reach the pinnacle of motor racing after Narain Karthikeyan, his childhood friend.

Karun Chandok was introduced to motor sports from an early age. His father, Vicky, now a senior member of FIA and Indian Motorsports Federation, is a former National Rally Champion. Grandfather, Indu Chandok, was the founder of FMSCI, Federation of Motor Sports Clubs in India.

The younger Chandok won the Indian Racing Championship in 2000 with season high seven victories, starting from pole position and setting fastest lap in all 10 events, which stands to this day as a national record.

The following season, 2001, Chandok captured the opening five races in the Asian Formula Championship; three additional wins later in the season gave him the title. He was awarded the ‘Most promising Asian driver of the year’.

He also tested the waters of British F3 with Trevor Carlin’s team.

The years 2002-’04 saw Chandok competing in the series. In 2003, he became a certified racing instructor at the Silverstone racing school. A brief foray in World Series by Renault in 2004 was followed by representing his nation in the inaugural 2005-’06 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

Returning to the Asian continent Chandok won the first Formula Asia V6 by Renault Championship in 2006. From 12 starts he grabbed 9 pole positions and seven wins.

Vicky “Papito” Chandok. Family friend Vijay Mallya to his left.

2007-’09. The GP2 years. Chandok arrived in the “official feeder series of F1” in 2007 with Durango team and tasted success at Spa-Francorchamps in the sprint race after starting from the front row. Was voted ‘Most improved driver of the year’.

The following season, 2008, he was teammate to Bruno Senna – and they may be teammates again this year – and again scored a sprint race victory, this time in the support race to the German Grand Prix. Podium finishes were also recorded Monaco, Silverstone and Dubai, the GP2 Asia version of the series.

Past season was spent with third team in as many seasons, Tiago Monteiro’s Ocean Racing Technology. Podium finish in the sprint race at Silverstone was his best finish.

Kingfisher gives Karun wings. While Chandok has tested Red Bull F1 machinery before, chances are support for his entry in this year’s world championship will come from long time sponsor and family friend Dr. Vijay Mallya. The airline and liquor baron and Chandok Sr. were instrumental in securing a Grand Prix for India.

Now all they need is a driver.

— Nasir Hameed

Racing regards from California!