May 3, 2017: Former Formula One driver Karun Chandhok has confirmed that he will participate in this weekend’s 6 Hours of Spa Francorrchamps and next month’s prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours with the English team Tockwith Motorsport, which is set to make its Le Mans debut in June in the LMP2 class.
Both races are currently part of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Chandhok is thus far the first and only Indian to compete at the Le Mans 24 hour race and the 2017 edition will be his fifth appearance the world‘s biggest endurance racing event. His fellow drivers will be teenage debutant Philip Hanson and Nigel Moore.
Speaking about the deal Karun said “I’m really excited to be going back to Le Mans. It’s one of the biggest races in the world and I feel very privileged to be the only person from my country to have raced there. It’s a race you have to take seriously as it’s a fast and dangerous track but that makes it a great challenge.”
The 6 hour race at Spa in Belgium on the 6th of May will be Chandhok’s first taste of the new LMP2 machinery, and a good chance to gain some experience racing with the team before Le Mans week. Spa is known as one of the ultimate driver’s circuits and Karun has driven at the historic venue in Formula 3, GP2, Formula 1 and in the World Endurance Championship in 2012.
Speaking on the World Championship race Karun said, “Spa is a great yardstick. It’s a track I love, having won there in GP2 and it’s a good race to do for us to gauge ourselves against the competitors in the World Endurance Championship before Le Mans. Doing a 6 hour race is obviously only a quarter of the time we will need to cover when compared to Le Mans but it will give us plenty of very good data before we head to Le Mans.
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, Karun sums up “The grid in LMP2 this year is going to be incredibly strong. 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 5 and achieving that will be a great result for us this year.”
Karun made a return to the track last weekend by competing in the British Championship for LMP3 cars. Joining his old F3 team T-Sport on their Sportscar debut, Karun and team-mate Steve Tandy finished 3rd and 4th in the two races held at Donington Park. Speaking on the event Karun said “It was a last minute deal – I first drove the car at 10:30 in the morning and a few hours later we were on the podium so that was nice. It was very useful for me to do the race weekend and get warmed up before Spa next weekend.”