Chandhok's team 9th fastest in Le Mans opening run

Le Mans (France), June 20 (IANS) Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok and his team Murphy Prototypes were ninth fastest in LMP2 class and 17th overall on the first day of qualifying practice at the La Sarthe circuit ahead of the 24 hours Le Mans this weekend.

Chandhok's team Murphy Prototypes returned 3:44.538 Wednesday in the opening qualifying practice of the world's oldest sports car race.

The trio of Brendon Hartley, Mark Patterson and Karun Chandhok will drive in the LMP2 Nissan V8-powered Oreca 03.

The qualifying session finished early due to barrier damage at the second Mulsanne chicane, cutting short the session by 55 minutes. The second qualifying practice will be held Thursday. The race begins Saturday afternoon.

In the first practice session, which was held in the evening, the team were placed in 23rd position with Patterson behind the wheel. The morning was full of of rain and hail storms which meant there was lack of grip on the track.

Patterson did complete the run before Chandhok took over for the first qualifying practice session. Chandhok focused on setting up the car for the race.

The Indian was happy with the session but was clear that there was a lot more work to do.

"It was OK, there wasn't really time for qualification laps as we were still on reasonably used tyres. We were still doing race set-up because of the red flags, so we didn't have time to do anything, neither Brendon nor I did any laps in the daylight," said Chandhok.

"Unfortunately for him, he didn't do any in the night either because of the red flag. It was pretty crazy how much time we lost, so we just focused on race set-up. We're not bad, but we've got work to do and we'll do what we have to do."

Hartley did not get much running but was optimistic of a good weekend ahead. "I was planning to do the last 45 minutes this evening and get some laps in, but another red flag and they cancelled the session. I think we're in good shape though, Karun was in P9 and we weren't really pushing for quali laps at that point, but I'm sure others have a similar story. We're feeling reasonably confident, I'm not too worried that I haven't done any laps yet in the dry, I've driven this car enough times and I know the circuit, so I hope to be on it straight away."

Team Principal Greg Murphy felt the LMP2 category will be one of the most closely contested this weekend with nothing to choose from. "It's going to be a scrap in LMP2, there are so many teams here that can win this race but we're here to fight, we're here to win," said Murphy.

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