Following an impressive debut in the Asian Le Mans in February, Racing Team India is all set to create history once again by becoming the first all-Indian team to compete in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans Championship later this year. The team has secured a spot on the official 62-car entry list of the iconic racing event scheduled between August 21-22, 2021, to be held at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The team will see Narain Karthikeyan, Arjun Maini and Naveen Rao back in the driver's seat, aiming to put up a strong performance in the 89th edition of the endurance racing championship.
Speaking about the announcement, Padma Shri Awardee and India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan said, "This is a proud moment not just for our team, but for our nation as a whole. Racing at Le Mans with an Indian team is a dream I have nurtured since 2009 when I first visited the Circuit de la Sarthe. I would like to thank all of our sponsors and partners, and especially the ACO and the Asian Le Mans Series team, without whose support this wouldn't have been possible. It's been a long time coming but finally, we're all set to put Indian motorsport on the global endurance racing map."
The passion project for Karthikeyan saw the team make an impressive debut in the Asian Le Mans series earlier in the year. The team managed to finish fifth after two four hour races, overcoming several issues and a steep learning curve in a short duration.
With the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, the team comes closer to its ultimate goal and has partnered with Eurasia Motorsport. The latter has been competing in the LMP2 regular class in the World Endurance Championship and finished in the top 15 in last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Racing Team India will compete in the LMP2 Pro/Am class backed by the technical expertise and know-how of Eurasia Motorsport.
Compared to the Asian Le Mans, the big change for Racing Team India is the adoption of the new Ligier JA P217 chassis. The Indian team previously used the Oreca-07 in the Asian Le Mans and the car is one of four LMP2 chassis to be homologated by the Le Mans organisers - ACO, FIA and IMSA. The chassis is paired with the 4.2-litre Gibson-sourced V8 engine that develops 600 bhp and comes with electronics developed by Cosworth.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is considered the holy grail of endurance racing and is one of the oldest motorsport events in the world. It is regarded as the ultimate test of man and machine that lap the circuit for 24 hours straight at speeds in excess of 300 kmph on the fastest sections. Over the years, the event has allowed manufacturers to showcase the durability of their vehicles and test new technologies. It's also shown some splendid work of strategy, teamwork and driving skills. Traditionally held in June every year, the race has been postponed this year in the wake of the pandemic. The organisers decided to push the dates to August in hopes of having spectators back at the circuit.