HISTORY BECKONS AS CHANDHOK LOOKS FORWARD TO BEING FIRST INDIAN TO START LE MANS 24HRS
June 13, 2012, Le Mans, France: Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok will create history this weekend by becoming the first driver to start the historic Le Mans 24 hours race at the La Sarthe circuit in the North of France. The Le Mans 24 hours race, part of the FIA World Endurance Championship, is also widely regarded as part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, along with the F1 Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.
We’re doing close to 330 km/h not just on one straight but on 4 different parts of the track.
This will be a first not only for Karun, but also for his JRM Team, who are making their debut in the Le Mans 24 hours race. JRM Racing will enter its Honda HPD ARX-03a in the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) class, with former winner David Brabham and Peter Dumbreack joining Chandhok at the wheel. Brabham will be racing here for the 18th time while Dumbreck will have his 5th go at the famous venue.
After doing just 10 laps around the circuit last week Chandhok could not hide his excitement about driving around such a long fast high speed circuit. “It’s such an amazing circuit here – I was expecting something special after driving the simulator and watching the videos but they don’t do it justice ! This is certainly one of the highlights of any driver’s career and a big box to tick on your CV. There are some circuits that you just have to race at in your career to make it complete – places like Monaco, Macau, Silverstone, Spa, Le Mans and Monza and I’m very excited to finish this particular set. The fans here come as if it’s a pilgrimage – I met so many people who were camping in the cold, wet fields all week that said they’ve been coming here for the last 15 or 20 years. To see 250,000 people here for the race is going to be pretty amazing I think.”
The circuit is 13.6 kilometres long with cars touching top speeds of 330km/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.
Chandhok added, “We’re doing close to 330 km/h not just on one straight but on 4 different parts of the track. There are some very fast flowing corners as well as chicanes which are very tricky when trying to slow down from such high speeds.“
“The circuit is almost twice the length of Spa which is the longest circuit in F1 and it’s crazy to think that over the course of 24 hours, we’ll cover the same distance as 18 F1 races ! Driving at night is going to be one of the biggest challenges with such a high speed circuit and I’m looking forward to getting a feel of that late tonight. The manufacturers with their F1 size budgets and infrastructure have a huge advantage, so for us as a privateer team, we are realistically fighting to be the ‘best of the rest’ behind the Audi’s and Toyota’s.”
Team Manager and Chief Engineer Nigel Stepney commented, "Now we’re into race week, the excitement ahead of our first Le Mans 24 hours is really starting to build. We’ve made some progress and are feeling quite comfortable with where we are now. This week obviously the weather is going to be a major talking point with both wet and dry running predicted over the weekend and the race itself. Our plan is to build on the data we have collected and then pick up as much information as possible during the sessions.