Chandhok excited about return to iconic Le Mans

By | June 18, 2013
Le Mans (France), 18 June 2013:, Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok will return to the historic Le Mans 24 hours race this weekend at the La Sarthe circuit in the North of France. Chandhok will drive the iconic Le Mans 24 hours race in the LMP2 Nissan V8-powered Oreca 03 with Murphy Prototypes. The Le Mans 24 hours race, part of the FIA World Endurance Championship, is widely regarded as part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, along with the F1, a press release from Adrenna Communications said.

Chandhok is the only Indian on the grid amongst 166 drivers this year. Last year he created history by becoming the first and only Indian to compete in and finish the race, when he finished in 6th place overall for JRM Racing. There will be 56 cars on the grid and this year LMP2 is the strongest class with 22 cars on the grid.

Chandhok could not hide his excitement about returning to what he considers one of the best races ever.  He commented, I’m very excited to be back at Le Mans! Racing here last year, and being the first Indian to compete in and finish the historic 24 hours was one of the highlights of my career. This race is certainly right up there in terms of the Monaco F1 GP in terms of prestige but in terms of getting a result it’s much harder I think. It’s such a long race and certainly feels like a very long 24 hours hoping that the car runs reliably.

The Murphy Prototypes team will consist of young New Zealander, Brendon Hartley, and the greatly-experienced endurance sports car campaigner, Mark Patterson, who placed 2nd in LMP2 at the Petit Le Mans 2011 and is boosted at La Sarthe by Karun, a former Lotus and Hispania F1 driver.

Team owner Greg Murphy said We are thrilled to have Karun onboard for Le Mans this year. Our front-running performances at the two European Le Mand rounds this year at Silverstone and Imola has shown we have the pace, and a great driver combination in Brendon and Mark, which is boosted still further with the addition of Karun Chandhok to the squad for Le Mans. With these three, our line-up is good enough to win. Karun brings an awful lot to the table. He’s a very professional driver with Formula One experience and very quick. So we have a very good blend between the three of them.

The circuit is 13.6 kilometres long with cars touching top speeds of 315km/h. The three drivers will share driving duties over the 24 hours. Practice & Qualifying will take place on Thursday night with for the drivers to get accustomed to driving at night.

After their Nissan-Oreca ran at the head of the LMP2 field for five hours at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and with Chandhok placed sixth overall last year, hopes are running high in the team camp.

Chandhok is encouraged by the competitiveness of the LMP2 category and the effort the team is putting in. He added, Last year I was here with JRM in the LMP1 class, but the problem in LMP1 is that only the two manufacturer teams Audi and Toyota have a chance of winning. A privateer has no chance under the current regulations. In LMP2, you have a real chance of fighting for a class victory as every team is a privateer outfit. Its been interesting for me to drive the LMP2 car this year – the speed in the corners is pretty much the same as the LMP1 car and some times even faster as they are lighter, but the straight line speeds are a bit less. We’re still doing 315 kmh down the straights though so it’s pretty damn quick in the middle of the night on a narrow forest road!”

“The team at Murphy Prototypes have been working very hard to get the car sorted – they were leading the race until 6am last year but had a suspension failure. This is such a hard race to get right – the reliability of the car is probably more critical than outright speed although you do need both. I have two good team-mates in Brendon Hartley, who I know from both our time as Red Bull F1 test drivers, and Mark Patterson from America who is a Le Mans rookie but is learning fast. commented Chandhok.

This year’s Le Mans 24 hours race will mark the 90th anniversary of the race. The race distance is more than 5000 km, which is equal to about 16 F1 races. The Le Mans 24 hours boasts the world’s largest live audience for a sporting event with over 280,000 people.

Chandhok was also quick to thank his long time supporters JK Tyre and Tag Heuer who made this all possible. He said, “Being the only Indian on the grid amongst 166 drivers is once again an honour and I have to really thank my long time supporters JK Tyre and Tag Heuer for their backing once again this year.”

The race can be seen live at  – www.fiawec.com

Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.