The World Endurance Championship was a new series created for 2012 by the governing body of motorsport, the FIA. Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok is currently part of this series.
There are four classes of car in the series:
LMP1 - Le Mans Prototype 1 (learn more here)
LMP2 - Le Mans Prototype 2 (learn more here)
LMGTE Pro - Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Professional (learn more here)
LMGTE Am - Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Amateur (learn more here)
All the drivers and teams are fighting for seven titles:
#1) Drivers' World Championship
(awarded to the best driver/s overall, over the course of the season)
#2) Manufacturers' World Championship
(awarded to the best manufacturer in the LMP1 class, that will be one of two; Audi or Toyota)
#3) Manufacturers' World Cup
(awarded to the best manufacturer in either GTE class, that will be one of three; Porsche, Ferrari or Chevrolet Corvette)
#4) LMP1 Trophy
(awarded to the best privateer team in the LMP1 class, that will be one of five including Karun's team, JRM)
#5) LMP2 Trophy
(awarded to the best team in the LMP2 class, that will be one of eight teams)
#6) GTE Pro Trophy
(awarded to the best team in the GTE Pro class, that will be one of four teams)
#7) GTE Am Trophy
(awarded to the best team in the GTE Am class, that will be one of six teams)
As for point scoring, it's the standard FIA scoring system: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1. Additionally, those finishing 11th or lower get half a point (as long as the car completes 70% race distance). Furthermore there is one additional point for all the drivers and teams who take pole position.
The series consists of eight races:
1) 12 Hours of Sebring
2) 6 Heures de Spa-Francorchamps
3) 24 Heures du Mans
4) 6 Hours of Silverstone
5) 6 Hours of São Paulo
6) 6 Hours of Bahrain
7) 6 Hours of Fuji
8) 6 Hours of Shanghai
This weekend is race three, the 24 Heures du Mans.
This race is a very prestigious race; for certain it's the most prestigious sports car race in the World. But what makes it such a huge event? It has been running since 1923 (although obviously only entered the WEC calendar this season, as this is the inaugural WEC season) which means it has a very long history. Also, the field consists of 22 former Formula One drivers; it's an event they all want to win, right up there with the Monaco GP. In addition, it's the only 24-hour race on the calendar; the ultimate in endurance racing! Naturally one driver can't do one 24-hour stint and so two, or more usually three, drivers share the wheel of each car. Driver changes happen during pit stops.
As mentioned before, Karun is driving for JRM Racing. He will become the first Indian to race in the Le Mans 24 hours. His teammates are Australian driver David Brabham and British driver Peter Dumbreck. Narain Karthikeyan was due to take part in the event in 2009, however before the race he dislocated his shoulder by jumping over the pitwall and missed the event. That left teammates André Lotterer and Charles Zwolsman Jr. to do the whole 24 hours. Despite only having two drivers the team, Kolles, finished a very impressive 7th in LMP1 and overall.
After two races David, Karun and Peter are in joint 16th in the Drivers' World Championship (refer to #1 above) with 2.5pts each. As for the team, they are eligible for the LMP1 Trophy (#4 above). They sit 3rd on 27pts. The championship leader, Rebellion Racing, only has 37pts and therefore things are very tight! One thing we didn't mention earlier is that for this race only all points scored are doubled (due to the length & prestige of the event) - this means 50pts for a win! Clearly a crucial race for the championship despite only being race three of eight.
Qualifying has already been held for the Le Mans race which begins today (Sunday 17th) at 6:30PM IST. The qualifying format is that there are three sessions, and every cars' best time goes towards determining the grid. The JRM Racing car clocked their best time in session three to qualify 11th overall.
It's going to be a fascinating race for sure, we'll keep you guys periodically updated during the race via our facebook page and we'll have a full report on Monday!
We wish Karun Chandhok and JRM Racing the very best of luck!