Narain sixth in Le Mans Endurance race

May 12th, 2009 - 12:04 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, May 11 (IANS) Narain Karthikeyan became the first Indian to participate and score points in the Le Mans 24-hour classic race over the weekend when he finished sixth for the Kolles Audi Team, driving the R10 TDi LMP1 Sportscar.
The 5.5 liter V12, turbo-diesel powered car is one of the most successful in the history of the championship, winning the Le Mans 24-hour classic for the past three years.

The 1,000 km endurance race held at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium Sunday was the venue of the second round of the 2009 Le Mans Series (LMS), where Karthikeyan started his summer season of racing this year.

Karthikeyan shared driving duties with two others, Briton Andrew Meyrick and Dutchman Charles Zwolsman, according to a press release.

The Indian qualified ninth on the grid, ahead of the team’s second car driven by Christian Albers.

As per championship regulations, the qualifying driver can either start the race, or finish the race, and Karthikeyan chose the latter.

He drove the last 1 hour 25 minutes of the event, crossing the finish line in sixth position, two laps ahead of the team’s sister car that finished seventh.

“It was a phenomenal experience for me to race in the LMS. The car is extremely technical, very challenging to drive, and race strategies are of crucial importance. There are 50 cars racing on the track at the same time, in four different classes. The speed differentials between the various classes makes it very difficult to race, as you’re lapping cars all the time, which doesn’t allow you to get into a rhythm at all,” Narain said.

“I had a big scare towards the end of the race when Bruno Senna (nephew of three times F1 champion, Ayrton) had a huge shunt just in front of me at the superfast Blanchimont corner. Fortunately, he was unhurt, but his car was a total write-off.”

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