Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok today confirmed that he will return to the historic Le Mans 24 hours race on the 13th/14th of June. Chandhok, who was the first Indian to drive in the Le Mans 24 hours in 2012, goes back with a firm target of a podium finish at this iconic race. For the third year in succession, Chandhok will race with Murphy Prototypes and their the Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03R Nissan-powered LMP2 car. He will be joined by GP2 driver Nathaniel Berthon and the experienced Mark Patterson. The Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) category this year is the most competitive it has ever been, with new cars from Oreca and HPD as well as a more developed Ligier. However the team are optimistic following a strong pre-season test at Paul Ricard earlier this month.
Chandhok, who is supported by JK Tyre, AVT Premium, Sidvin and Tag Heuer, reiterated his conviction on the Le Mans 24hours being one of the most exciting races in the world. He commented, “Le Mans is one of the greatest races in the world and my ambition to be the first Indian on the podium is still burning strongly within. I am happy to be back with Murphy Prototypes as we have always worked really well together. Nathanael (Berthon) was very quickly up to speed last year and now has a year of sportscar racing under his belt and Mark (Patterson) has improved a great deal from when we raced together in 2013 so I think we’ve got a strong line up. We had a lot of speed and potential in the last two years there but the results didn’t work out for variety of reasons. Hopefully third time lucky!”
Chandhok will add the Le Mans 24Hours to his existing program in the FIA Formula E series with Mahindra Racing. He added, “We’re still half way through the Formula E season and there’s plenty of work to do there with Mahindra Racing, but equally, pursuing my career in Sportscars is still very important to me. There are more and more manufacturers coming into Sportscar racing and having a good result in LMP2 is the perfect way to put yourself back in the shopping window for a full factory drive. It’s going to be a very busy few weeks in May and June with 5 out of 6 weekends on track for Formula E races in Berlin, Moscow and London and then the Le Mans test and race alternating in between!”
Team owner Greg Murphy was excited about having Chandhok back with the team for another assault on the Le Mans 24Hours. He said “I’m really happy to have Karun back with us again. We work well together and we also drive each other mad, but it’s because we have an equally strong ambition to succeed at the biggest race in the world. Apart from obviously being quick, Karun has proven to be a real team player for the past two years at Le Mans for us and this is the main reason I keep pushing for him to join the team. For the first time, we are heading to Le Mans with all three drivers having previous Le Mans experience and this is very important I think.”
The Le Mans 24 hours race, is widely regarded as part of the three Crown Jewels of Motorsport, along with the F1 Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. The 13.6 kilometres long circuit at Le Mans winds through the French countryside, with cars touching top speeds of 315km/h. The race distance is more than 5000 km, which is equal to about 16 F1 races. 2014 saw a record 263300 spectators at the circuit to witness the race. Chandhok, who has a highest finishing position of 6th place, will return to the La Sarthe circuit where the race traditionally starts at 3pm on a Saturday and finishes at 3pm on the Sunday.
Chandhok was also quick to thank his long time supporters JK Tyre, AVT Premium, Sidvin and Tag Heuer for their continued support. He said, “I am entering into my 15th year of association with JK Tyre which is just amazing. We’ ve been together from Formula Maruti all the way to F1 and now to Formula E and Le Mans. Tag Heuer, Sidvin and AVT have also been with me for a few years now and I ‘m proud to be carrying their colours with me once again.”
To look in on the action at Murphy Prototypes in the build-up and to follow an hourly ticker during the race – www.murphyprototypes.com