Karun Chandhok aims for top-five finish at Le Mans

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) Karun Chandhok is banking on past experience for a top five finish in his class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, zooming off this weekend at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Chandhok will be competing in the LMP2 category for Murphy Prototypes, an emerging outfit which led its class for five hours before retiring following a technical snag.

"It is a new class and much bigger one than LMP1. It is going to be a much closer field, but it will pretty much be about having a reliable car more than anything else," Chandhok told IANS from Le Mans in France.

The former Formula 1 driver was part of the JRM LMP1 squad in his debut race last year, coming home sixth overall with 2009 winner David Brabham and Peter Dumbreck.

This time he is partnering former Red Bull reserve Brendon Hartley and Mark Patterson. Murphy Protypes' ORECA-Nissan 03 will be fighting with 22 LMP2 cars while the overall winner is likely to come from the more powerful eight LMP1 machines.

"The manufacturers always have an edge over privateers. Ours is fairly a new team but I would be disappointed if we don't finish in the top five in our class. If all goes well in the race, a podium is also a possibility," said the 29-year-old.

He says adjusting to a prototype will not be an issue amid driving in the GT1 series this season.

"In fact, it is a pleasure to drive these prototypes. It gives a single seater feel and has a lot more grip and downforce than the conventional sports cars. It might lack the speed of single seaters but the downforce makes driving a pleasure." The GT field at Le Mans comprise GTE Pro and GTE AM class.

Le Mans is the ultimate endurance test for drivers, who are required to be behind the wheel for the two to three hours at a stretch, including the night time, before handing over the duty to the other two teammates.

Recalling his time last year, Chandhok says adapting to track conditions and dealing with the mental pressure is the most challenging part of the historic race, attended by 250,000 spectators every year.

"Weather is always a key. You are required to drive in the night, in the rain. You don't know what is coming at you. So adaptability is crucial. And you need a car that works well in all conditions.

"A big part of the circuit consists of public roads so that is another challenge," he says of the 13.6 km track.

Does one need to prepare differently for 24 Hours of Le Mans?

"Training wise you do the usual things. It is just about sleeping well before the race. That is the advice I got last year from David (Brabham).

"Physically it is not much of an issue. The biggest challenge is dealing with the mental side while driving non-stop for three hours. It could be quite draining." Chandhok ended up driving for more than nine hours in the last edition.

What about the ideal diet during the 24 hours? "As far as the diet goes, I had a whole lot of energy bars. Should be the same this time around."

The practice and qualifying takes place Wednesday and Thursday. Testing was done June 9.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »