Motorsport: Karun, team finish sixth at Le Mans

June 17th, 2012 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Le Mans (France), June 17 (IANS) Karun Chandhok created history by becoming the first Indian to finish the historic Le Mans 24 Hours race as his JRM Team crossed the line in sixth position here Sunday.

Chandhok, along with team-mates David Brabham and Peter Dumbreck, delivered faultless performances to finish the race on the team’s debut at the world’s largest motorsporting event, with over 400,000 fans in attendance through the week.

Brabham, the 2009 Le Mans winner, took the start in the team’s Honda HPD ARX-03a LMP1 car and immediately gained a place from the starting slot of 11th. The Australian set a consistent pace to hold 10th position overall before handing over to Chandhok just after 5 p.m.

Chandhok had a baptism by fire with an immediate quadruple stint in the car and had moved from P10 to P8 by the end of his time in the car.

He then handed over to Dumbreck who gained a position when the car in front pitted, but lost it when he himself refuelled. He later moved up to sixth place.

However on lap 114, Dumbreck had a tyre failure coming through the Dunlop Curves and went off into the gravel. The Scot subsequently had to negotiate almost the entire lap with a puncture, and was pulled into the garage to check for suspension damage.

No major damage was found but the delay dropped the team to 17th overall. During the stop, Brabham took over for his second session in the car and the fight to gain positions began.

The Australian made a charge, storming through the LMP2 cars and was back to ninth overall by the time he handed over to Chandhok on lap 158.

Chandhok soon went up to eighth and set about chasing theStarworks car. On a stop on lap 169, Chandhok reported a problem with the clutch and was pushed into the garage. He rejoined in 12th overall, but brought the car back to the pits in ninth when he handed over to Dumbreck just before dawn.

Dumbreck then put in a long stint as the sun came up, completing 42 laps. When he came off shift a little after 7.30 a.m., the Scot had put the team back into seventh overall, clear of the LMP2 cars and three laps from sixth following issues for the Strakka Racing and Rebellion.

Brabham then took over and consolidated the sixth position before handing back to Chandhok for another quadruple stint.

Dumbreck concluded the race for the JRM Racing car amidst frenzied celebrations on the team’s pit wall given the magnitude of what the drivers and the team had achieved in their very first attempt.

Chandhok said: “Driving for nine of the last 36 hours and sleeping for four makes for a pretty tiring ratio! I ended up doing the graveyard shift from 2-5 a.m. which was very special and exhausting in equal measure. It made me really understand the unique, special nature of this race.

“Overall, a very good race for us and it feels great to be the only Indian to have finished the Le Mans 24hr race. The whole team worked tirelessly and it is a great reward for all their hard work.

“We have all been flat out since the first test here. I am absolutely exhausted and look forward to taking a nice long break. To finish second amongst the private teams is huge, so fantastic result all around.”

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