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India's Sailesh second on debut at British GT championship

Europe,United Kingdom,Sports, Mon, 09 Apr 2012 IANS

Cheshire (England), April 9 (IANS) The inaugural race of the 2012 British GT championship lived up its fast-paced, closely competitive racing reputation with Indian driver Sailesh Bolisetti making it to the second spot on the podium on his series debut at Oulton Oark here Monday.

 

The stage for the cracking race was set early Sunday as drivers made their way to a very wet Oulton Park circuit in the morning, with the rain showing no signs of abating.

 

 

Luckily though, the first practice session riday was also held under similar conditions, which gave Sailesh an opportunity to get some wet-weather running under his belt.

 

 

'I thought that I'd much rather prefer a completely dry weekend, but with the race conditions it was turned out well that we had some experience in similar conditions. The lines, grip level and tyre characteristics are completely different', he added.

 

 

By the virtue of setting the pace in first qualifying session for the Lotus Sport UK team, Sailesh was set to take the wheel in the opening stint in one-hour long first race.

 

 

A perfect rolling start later, Sailesh did well to hold the GT4 competition, while conditions went from bad to worse, with several cars going off around him.

 

 

'It was really treacherous, I could see cars going off and coming back all over the circuit. I was just focussing on keeping all wheels on the tarmac and keeping my nose out of trouble.

 

 

'It was easier said than done since the bunched-up GT3 cars were throwing up an awful amount of spray and their taillights were all I had to go on.'

 

 

Sailesh managed to keep things in one piece though, and the strategy was working well until the safety car was deployed in the 23rd minute after one of the GT3 cars stopped on the circuit.

 

 

The timing couldn't have been worse as Sailesh was poised to hand over the car to his teammate Phil Glew at the time, with the mandatory pitstop window approaching.

 

 

The safety car period bunched up the car - which was good and bad in equal measures.

 

 

The GT4 competition was closer now, which meant Sailesh would have an opportunity to pass once the track went green again.

 

 

However, some of the GT3 cars had peeled off into the pitlane after the safety car was deployed and had re-joined at the back of the grid.

 

 

The fear was realised as the safety car came in and racing was resumed. The GT3 cars from the back of grid were jostling for position to move back through the field, bullying the slower GT4 cars out of the way.

 

 

'We lost several crucial seconds getting out of the way and going off the racing line to let the GT3 cars pass. If it wasn't for that we could have been fighting for the win,' he said.

 

 

Sailesh finally came in after the half hour mark to hand the car over to his teammate, and some deft work by the Lotus Sport crew in the pitlane allowed the team to claw back some time.

 

 

Glew put his experience in extreme conditions to good use and proceeded to gain two places to give the team a second-placed finish.

 

 

Former BTCC driver and Lotus Sport UK team manager Gary Ayles was pleased with the rookie's first outing.

 

 

'Conditions couldn't have been any difficult for a debutant, yet Sailesh showed great maturity and gave the car back to us in one piece - which isn't what we can say about a lot of other experienced drivers today.'

 

 

Sailesh's race engineer, Vic Lee also reiterated Ayles' comments.

 

 

'He did an extremely good job in his first race, didn't make things difficult for us since conditions were plenty difficult anyways.'

 

 

'At this point it is all about getting as much seat time as possible and staying out of trouble to finish. We're on the podium for the first race of the season so things are looking quite promising.'

 


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