June 19, 2017: Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok used all his experience at the La Sarthe circuit to help debutant team Tockwith Motorsports finish in 10th position in the LMP2 class, in a frantic, dramatic and grueling edition of this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. Chandhok was joined by team owner Nigel Moore and Le Mans rookie Phil Hanson.
Having started the race from 21st place in class on the grid in the iconic blue & orange Gulf livery that is synonymous with the race, the #34 Tockwith car steadily rose through the order. The team was impressive on the reliability front resulting in an almost completely trouble-free run in unusually hot temperatures. Driving the Ligier Gibson JS P217, Karun started his work in the race with a quintuple stint at 5:15pm. Chandhok drove multiple long stints and a total of just under 9 hours, setting the fastest lap for the team with a 3:33.875 in his first stint.
Backed by AVT Group, Chandhok was happy to register another top 10 finish at Le Mans. He commented, “I’m very pleased to finish 10th this year. Going with a rookie team and a rookie team mate, this was always going to be a hard Le Mans. Throw in the fact that we didn’t have the most competitive chassis, and in the end to go from 21st on the grid to 10th in the race is a very good result.“I started the race with a mammoth quintuple stint during the hottest part of the day. This was my first year at Le Mans with a closed roof car and we don’t run air conditioning so it’s boiling hot in the cockpit – over 40 degree centigrade. The engineers were clearly testing my fitness levels as this was the hottest race here in 14 years and doing nearly three and a half hours at the beginning was not much fun at the end! I followed it up with another quadruple stint through the night – doing the graveyard shift from 2:45am till about 5:30am which really ruins your night. It’s mentally a very hard stint to do as you’ve been away for nearly 24 hours by then, your fatigue levels are very high.
But it also means your concentration levels reach their absolute maximum – driving through the dark forests at over 320kmh with just the two beams of light in front of you, going through the traffic, avoiding the debris and gravel thrown onto the track, it’s an amazing buzz.” added Chandhok.
The 24 hours of Le Mans draws a live audience of 300,000 spectators and forms part of the trio of blue ribbon events in motorsports, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. The LMP2 class featured one of the most competitive grids it has ever seen with 25 cars and a driver line-up that featured a host of former F1 drivers including Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov, Nelson Piquet jnr, and Jean Eric Vergne.
Chandhok continues to be the only Indian to have participated in one of the most grueling races in the history of motorsports. Chandhok was quick to thank to everyone who made this possible. Chandhok sums up “A big thank you to my supporters from the AVT Group as well as Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson who were fun team mates to work with. A special thanks to all the engineers and mechanics at Tockwith Motorsport who worked tirelessly for the whole three weeks in the build up to Le Mans. Most importantly a quick shout out to all my fans who had nothing but positive messages, be it in person, or through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There was a huge campsite here full of Indian fans and it was such an honour to see the Indian tri-colour out in the grandstands to support me.”