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Karun Chandhok named Williams heritage driver

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Karun Chandhok has been named official driver for its Heritage division, which means he’ll get the chance to drive several of the epic cars in Williams Martini Racing’s collection.

From the media release, “Karun will focus on the testing and public demonstration of Williams’ historic racing cars. He will make his first appearance as a Williams Heritage driver at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed (June 23rd – 26th), where Karun will drive up the iconic Goodwood Hill behind the wheel of an FW08C from 1983 and an FW13B from 1990.”

Chandhok said, “Williams is such an iconic British team, steeped in racing history so it’s a real honor to be involved in its Heritage program. So many of the Williams Heritage cars are pieces of racing history with great stories to tell, so to be offered the chance to get up close and personal and drive them – sometimes being the first person to do so in decades – is an incredible opportunity. I look forward to not only demonstrating the cars from time to time, but working with other Williams car owners to help them fully enjoy their experience of driving these pieces of F1 history.”

Jonathan Williams, Williams Heritage Director, said “With a wealth of experience in a wide range of championships, including Formula One, GT, LMP1 and Formula E, Karun was the ideal candidate to be our Heritage driver. What’s more, he has a real passion for motorsport history and is a font of knowledge when it comes to Formula One. The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a highlight of the motorsport calendar, always providing fans with a truly impressive collection of modern and historic cars. We are very much looking forward to taking part in the event once more.”

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

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Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

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