Motor racing-Chandhok hopes to combine sportscars with F1

NEW DELHI Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:22pm GMT

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NEW DELHI Jan 12 (Reuters) - Karun Chandhok will race in this year's FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) while continuing to try and secure a reserve role in Formula One, the Indian driver said on Thursday.

Chandhok said the sportscar series would give him the chance to compete regularly while he explores test driving possibilities with a couple of Formula One teams including Caterham, the former Team Lotus who hired him last year.

"At the end of 2011, we explored the options to race in F1 and when it didn't look like a possibility, I decided to look outside," he said in a statement.

Talking to Reuters, Chandhok added: "It was obvious that without the right commercial backing, it's not possible to get a seat in F1.

"Probably I could have remained a test and reserve driver in F1 but I just needed some form of racing. With limited testing in F1, WEC seemed the best option outside. It's the highest level of competition outside F1.

"Of course I want to be in Formula One and I'm in talks with a couple of teams. I think I can juggle both the roles. The WEC calendar also suits me with just one race clashing with F1."

Chandhok said his immediate task was to prepare for the longer races in the eight-leg WEC which starts with the Sebring 12 Hours in the United States on March 17, the day before the Formula One season opens in Australia.

"I got to learn a lot. From a two-hour F1 race, now I have a 24-hour race at Le Mans. Then you have driving at night and sharing the car with fellow drivers.

"WEC includes races on some of the iconic places such as Spa, Silverstone and Interlagos and it's going to be a new challenge for me."

Chandhok joins Australian Le Mans winner David Brabham and Scotland's Peter Dumbreck at British-based JRM Racing and owner James Rumsey was convinced of the Indian driver's potential.

"Although this will be Karun's first year in sportscars, I have every confidence that he will be one of the quickest drivers on the grid," he said.

(Editing by Alan Baldwin. To comment on this story: email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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