Racing Team India, comprising India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan, will be the first all-Indian line-up alongside Arjun Maini and Naveen Rao to compete in the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours race in this year’s edition. The team has come a long way in India, where cricket rules the hearts and minds of the population.
According to The Hindu report, the team will be led by Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) member Gautam Singhania with JK Tyres as one of the commercial partners going forward. However, Karthikeyan and Maini’s switch to endurance racing is a switch from Formula One, where offers have dried up. Whereas, it will be a second stint for Maini who had previously participated in the iconic race.
Among the drivers, Karthkeyan doesn’t need an introduction. He burst onto the scene as a young driver in 2005 after he became the first Indian to drive with a F1 team – Jordan. Following a not so impactful initial stint in the F1 racing, he made a return to the F1 scene in 2011-12 season with Hispania Racing. Along his motorsport career, he has also raced in the Nascar Camping World Truck Series, the Superleague Formula, the Auto GP series. Most recently Karthikeyan participated in the Japanese Super GT race series. Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok remain as the only Indians to have raced in F1.
San Diego born Naveen Rao was last seen in the IMSA Sports Car Championship, in the United States. Whereas, Arjun Maini joined the U.S. owned Haas Formula One team as a development driver. The Bengaluru-based racer has steadily risen since 2011 after he won the Force India team’s ‘One in a Billion’ Indian driver talent competition as a 19-year-old. He then went to compete in a season of karting in Europe followed it with GP3 support series races. Maini, has previously driven for Algarve Pro Racing Team in the 2020 European Le Mans Series and one day hopes to race in a F1 team.