NOIDA, INDIA – OCTOBER 25: Narain Karthikeyan of India and Hispania Racing Team attends the drivers press conference during previews for the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit on October 25, 2012 in Noida, India. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
The country’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan will spearhead an all-Indian racing team in the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series, to be held in Abu Dhabi in February next year.
Besides Karthikeyan, the lineup also features Arjun Maini and Naveen Rao and the trio will look to compete in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans later in the year.
The Asian Le Mans Series, to be held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on February 5-6 and February 19-20, consists of four races spread over two weekends, with each event lasting four hours, a media release stated.
The Indian team will drive an ORECA 07 car in the LMP2 class, and have technical support from the championship-winning side, Algarve Pro Racing Team.
“I have been dreaming of going back to Le Mans for a few years now. This is probably the most exciting project in my career as a racing driver,” Karthikeyan said.
“We have a young and fledgling team and it will no doubt be a big test for us, but I am confident of doing well,” he added.
Bangalore-based Maini’s experience in endurance racing will come in handy for the team, having driven for Algarve Pro Racing Team in the 2020 European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
“I am glad to be back to racing so soon after the 2020 European Le Mans season, and I do believe that Algarve Pro Racing Team, the defending Asian Le Mans Series champions, gives us the best possible chance of securing an entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Maini said.
Rao, who is the reigning 2020 IMSA Prototype Challenge champion, said he is looking forward to driving as part of Racing Team India.
“I’m super excited to be partnering with Narain and Arjun to bring the first-ever Racing Team India to Le Mans. Le Mans has a magical quality and is the dream of many kids to be a part of,” he said.
Cyrille Taesch Wahlen, CEO of the Asian Le Mans Series, welcomed Racing Team India into its fold.
“Having an Indian flagged LMP2 team is not only a first for the Asian Le Mans Series, but it is also a first for ACO racing around the world. We have a growing supporter base in India, and now they have a team to support.
“I wish the team all the best and look forward to seeing them in Abu Dhabi,” Wahlen said.
JK Tyres will serve as Racing Team India’s inaugural partners.