Karun Chandhok on Thursday confirmed his participation in the newly-conceived FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), announcing that he will turn out for JRM Racing in the inaugural edition of the competition.
The 27-year-old, who was a reserve driver with Team Lotus last year, cited a lack of racing opportunities in Formula One as the primary motive behind his move. “At the end of last year, I looked at options within F-1, to race,” he said. “But it became increasingly clear that unless you have a good amount of sponsorship, it's hard to get a race seat. What I want to be doing more than anything else is racing. So I decided to look outside and this presented the next best option.”
The FIA WEC has, for now, eight races on its calendar, with the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring fixtures its highlights. Karun, who will partner David Brabham and Peter Dumbreck in the JRM Racing team, was unable to conceal his delight at being able to compete in them. “To be the first Indian to drive at Le Mans or Sebring is a very special feeling,” he said.
Karun admitted that endurance racing would present challenges, but remained confident of doing well. “It's going to be an interesting challenge, especially to drive at night. Sharing the cars with other drivers is also another point — the setup and the seat position are compromised. The cars are a lot bigger and heavier. So it's a completely new challenge. But I'm confident I'll be able to adapt, although I'll be relying heavily on my teammates.”
Karun, who will be driving a Honda Performance Development ARX-03a in the FIA WEC's LMP1 class, refused, however, to rule out a return to F-1 at some stage.
“Looking at the calendar, there's only one race (between the two competitions) that clashes. I'm still speaking to teams about testing and Friday sessions. You can never say not to being in an F-1 car.”