June 14, 2017: Flying through the dark at over 320 kilometers an hour, right foot flat on the throttle, relying on little more than the twin beams of light from his headlights, pure instinct and courage, Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok will be back at one of the biggest challenges in world sport this weekend when he competes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. . Part of what is known as the triple crown of motorsport, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500, this twice-round-the-clock race is one of the most grueling tests of man and machine ever devised.
Chandhok will drive the iconic blue-and-orange racing colours of Gulf Oil liveried Tockwith Motorsport Ligier JS P217. The famous The colours became synonymous with the French endurance race as a result of the 1971 Steve McQueen movie Le Mans.Backed by AVT Group, Chandhok could not conceal his excitement as he heads back to the race he views as one of the best in the world. He commented, “Le Mans is magical, it is the best race in the world in many ways. The challenge of it, is that it’s so damn difficult. You’re driving in the day, in the night, the track conditions are changing, the temperatures are changing, you’ve got rain inevitably at some stage, you have four different tyre compounds to choose from, you have to deal with the traffic, it’s such a long lap as well, very, very tricky to get right, and we’re doing over 320 kph at four different points on the track.”
Chandhok, who remains the only Indian to have competed in this iconic race, returns to the hallowed Circuit de La Sarthe in France for the fifth time this week in front of 300,000 spectators trackside. Chandhok will race the Tockwith Motorsports LMP2 class Ligier-Gibson P217, which is set to make its Le Mans debut in June in the LMP2 class. He will be joined by young debutant Philip Hanson and Nigel Moore. Chandhok competed at last month’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa to get more comfortable with the car.
“Realistically, I’m with a rookie team and with a rookie team-mate who’s 17 years old so it’s going to be a challenge to get a strong result. We’re in a Ligier chasses and judging by the official test session, we don’t seem to have the pace of the Oreca chassis who looked very strong. It’s a 24 hour race and lots can happen so we’ll just keep our heads down and work away but I think if we get in the top 6 we would have done very well considering all this.” added Chandhok.
The 24 hours of Le Mans draws a live audience of 300,000 spectators and forms part of the trio of blue ribband events in motorsports, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. The race starts at 3pm on Saturday the 17th of June and runs until 3pm on Sunday the 18th. The grid is divided up into four different categories – LMP1, LMP2, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am.
The LMP2 class where Tockwith Motorsport are competing is having something of a resurgence and the grid for the class at Le Mans is arguably the most competitive it’s ever been. With 25 cars on the grid, Karun will be racing alongside several drivers that he’s competed against over the years including Bruno Senna, Nico Prost, Nelson Piquet jnr, and Jean Eric Vergne.
Backed by the AVT Group once again, Chandhok sums up “The grid in LMP2 this year is going to feature one of the strongest ever line-ups. There are a lot of experienced teams and drivers and I’m under no illusions of how difficult the task ahead will be as a rookie team heading to Le Mans. I think we have to aim to get in the top 6 and achieving that will be a great result for us this year.”
|Free Practice||Wed 14 Jun – 16h00||4H|
|Qualifying 1||Wed 14 Jun – 22h00||2H|
|Qualifying 2||Thu 15 Jun – 19h00||2H|
|Qualifying 3||Thu 15 Jun – 22h00||2H|
|Warm-up||Sat 17 Jun – 09h00||45min|
|Race||Sat 17 Jun – 15h00||24H|