Karun Chandhok plans 2014 World Endurance Championship return

New Delhi, Feb 4: Indian driver Karun Chandhok is targeting a return to the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in his third season in sports car racing. He is confident that his recent association with Nissan will pave the way for a seat in an LMP2 team backed by the Japanese auto manufacturer.

Chandhok competed for JRM Racing in the inaugural WEC in 2012, following which the LMP1 outfit announced its pullout from the subsequent season. The 30-year-old then ventured into the FIA GT Series with Germany’s Seyyfarth Racing, an experience he calls a “disaster”.

The former Formula 1 driver told IANS that driving in the high-profile endurance championship is his top priority and it will also give him the opportunity to feature at the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans for the third year in a row.

“To do go back to WEC makes a lot of sense. I had an enjoyable experience in 2011 and it would be great to race against a world class drivers’ line-up,” said Chandhok, who will mentor the drivers of Nissan GT Academy that was launched in India here Tuesday.

Kamui Kobayashi, Nick Hiedfeld, Bruno Senna, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen are some of the big names who raced in the WEC last season across different categories.

Nissan, both as a works team and engine supplier, is a major player in sports car racing. Chandok said he is in talks with multinational company for a WEC return and will be testing a LMP2 and GT machine in Portugal later in the month.

“Nissan can get you a drive if it wants to. It depends on the relationship it shares with a team. Some teams have stronger relations with Nissan, some are customer teams. Hopefully, I will get to drive for a competitive LMP2 outfit,” said Chandhok.

A Le Mans Prototype (commonly abbreviated as LMP) is the type of sports prototype race car used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, FIA World Endurance Championship, United SportsCar Championship, European Le Mans Series and Asian Le Mans Series.

Six teams used Nissan engines last year with Oak Racing winning the LMP2 class.

“I am told Nissan is thinking of entering the LMP1 class. Hopefully I can move up with them next season,” said the Chennai-born racer adding that he would be okay driving for free providing he doesn’t have to raise any sponsorship money. “That is how I drove the last two years.”

It could be a busy year for Chandhok, who is likely to take part in the inaugural Formula E Championship beginning September. The WEC runs from April to November. Besides the time on the track, he will continue doing media work during the F1 season.

“There will be enough time to do all three. It is good fun talking about F1 with former drivers. They know the sport in and out, so you are always learning,” he said referring to the likes of drivers turned pundits – David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert, Damon Hill and Martin Brundle.

IANS