Le Mans, France: Indian driver Karun Chandhok and his Irish team Murphy Prototypes were forced to retire from the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the 82nd running of the world’s greatest endurance race.
It was a tough race with 19 cars retiring after early torrential rains created chaos in the field of 55 starters. The Irish team`s line-up consisted of Chandhok and Le Mans rookies -- Rodolfo Gonzalez and Nathanaël Berthon.
Berthon started well from sixth position in the LMP2 class. Despite losing two places early on, he settled into a steady rhythm during his stint. Berthon handed over the car to Chandhok during a smooth pit stop to retain the position.
However, bad luck struck the team as rains left enough water on the track to send Chandhok aquaplaning at Tet Rouge. The Greaves Motorsport car behind was caught in the same water and followed to make contact with them, damaging the suspension.
Eventually getting the car back to the pits, the mechanics repaired the car and Chandhok rejoined the race 36 laps later. But the Indian immediately found pace and set a string of fastest laps.
Darkness set upon Circuit de la Sarthe and Gonzalez took over for his first stint. A confident but measured approach from the Venezuelan saw him circulate as the fastest car for most of his stint.
Next Berthon returned to the driving seat for his second stint and another spell of bad luck struck the team as he reported a steering issue. A lengthy investigation followed.
Despite applying a temporary repair, Berthon was told that he wouldn`t be allowed to return to the pits on safety grounds due to the high-speed nature of his location on the circuit. This spelled instant retirement for the team.
"Le Mans is the best and biggest race in the world but it can also be the most frustrating race in the world. As soon as we had the car fixed, we were really fast. I had fastest lap comfortably at that point. I’d love to come back again and win it one day as I feel we deserve a result out of this,” said Chandhok.