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Racing Team India is all set to create history as the first all-Indian outfit to participate in international endurance racing. The team will be participating at the season-opening round of the Asian Le Mans Series in Dubai in the two and four-hour-long races, under the LMP2 category.
The first two runnings of the four-hour races will be held at the Dubai Autodrome on the 13th and 14th of February. The races will then move to Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit for another round of the two and four-hour races. This will be held on the 19th and 20th of February.
The winners of the Asian Le Mans series, automatically get an invitation to the main 24-hours of Le Mans - which is what Racing Team India have their eyes set for.
Talking about the 24-hours of Le Mans itself, the endurance race is considered to be one of the toughest and oldest in the world, having been held every year since 1923. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held in June this year and will take place at the Circuit de la Sarthe, France.
The all-Indian racing outfit - Racing Team India, will be spearheaded by Narain Karthikeyan (India's first F1 driver & Padma Shri Awardee) along with Arjun Maini (former F2 & European Le Mans racer) and Naveen Rao (2020 IMSA Prototype Challenge Champion). The team has partnered with JK tyre for their endeavour.
The team will also have technical support by Algarve Pro Racing Team - the reigning Asian Le Mans Series Champions. Racing Team India will be participating in the LMP2 category with their ORECA 7 race car. It is powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine producing 600bhp and is said to have a top speed of over 320km/h.
Padma Shri Awardee & India's first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan said,
"It is an incredibly proud moment for me to be representing our nation's first all-Indian endurance racing team. I have flown the flag for our country across various motorsport disciplines from Formula One to NASCAR and SuperGT racing."
"I've raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans once before, and it was an incredible experience, one which I always wanted to repeat. However, I couldn't have imagined anything better than to compete there for an Indian team."
"I'm extremely grateful to the ACO for giving us the platform to compete. They have been incredibly supportive from the first time we approached them, and this support has been instrumental in getting our team up and running."
He further added, "As for the weekend ahead, I'm looking forward to it. Arjun, Naveen, and I have considerable racing experience between the three of us. Our package has also been quick through testing. We did have some issues on the second day with traffic and difficulty in switching on the new tyres. But there's a lot of speed in the car and I'm confident we can deliver a strong result on our debut."
Former F2 and European Le Mans Series racer Arjun Maini said,
"Firstly, it's great to be back behind the wheel again, and to be flying the colours for an all-Indian team makes the experience even more special. Endurance racing is a format I've come to enjoy during my time racing in the European Le Mans series. I believe it plays to my strengths as a driver."
"It feels strange to think that of the three of us I have the most endurance racing experience. I've competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and I can tell you it's an incredible feeling. I'm really looking forward to going back there."
"We have a strong package, a proven driver line-up and with support from Algarve Pro Racing, who I know well, I believe we have all the ingredients in place to make it happen."
2020 IMSA Prototype Challenge Champion Naveen Rao said,
"My entire career has been spent racing sports cars and for me, Le Mans is the absolute pinnacle of competition. I have spent a long time dreaming about one day driving in this iconic event and I am grateful for the opportunity to do it for a team representing the country in which I have my roots."
"I've got a good feeling for the car, the three of us have struck up a strong relationship and I believe we genuinely have a package that can help us fight at the front."
Thoughts On The Racing Team India's Debut At The Asian Le Mans Series
It is a proud moment for Indian motorsports and motorsports fans in the country to see an all-Indian team participating in International endurance racing for the first time. We wish Racing Team India the best of luck for the Asian Le Mans and hoping to see them participate at the main 24 hours later this year.