It's Narain-Karun vs Seb-Schumi at the Race of Champions
India's best known racing drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok are back together. They will team up for India for the first time since 2004 in the high-profile Race of Champions (ROC) in Bangkok Dec 14-16
The two will get the chance of competing with the likes of reigning Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel and seven-time winner Michael Schumacher besides the big names of World Rally Championship, NASCAR, IndyCar, Moto GP, touring cars and X-Games.
Karthikeyan and Chandhok, who last raced together in the 2004 World Series Renault Championship before taking different career paths, are relishing the prospect of battling alongside Vettel and Schumacher in identical cars.
“It is an honour to get the invitation. It is a unique format with everyone using similar cars. It is also a bit of fun at the end of the year. However, when you put on that helmet, there is a natural driver’s instinct to compete,” said Karthikeyan, who is part of the struggling HRT in the current F1 season while Vettel drives for leaders Red Bull.
Chandhok could not hide his excitement while sitting next to his senior teammate.
“We are very excited. The event has a great history and you get to rub shoulders with the best in the business. It is good to be driving alongside Narain, we have been off racing in different series. The invite also shows India’s growing recognition in the world of motor sports,” said Chandhok, who spent the year in the World Endurance Championship.
The 28-year-old from Chennai drove for HRT in 2010, becoming the second Indian to be in F1 after Karthikeyan.
The duo will now mark India’s debut in ROC which began in 1988.
Fredrik Johnsson, ROC race organiser, said India will provide stiff competition.
“Narain and Karun are a formidable pairing for Team India and will certainly be a threat. With the might of China and India in the mix, we hope to see plenty of new motor sport fans cheering on their heroes at ROC,” said Johnsson.
The star-studded line-up also includes IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, former Grand Prix motorcycle road racing champion Michael Doohan, Moto GP champion Jorge Lorenzo and former F1 driver David Coulthard.
The team event called ROC Nations Cup will be held alongside the individual category. The drivers will fight it out on a specially constructed tarmac track with two parallel lanes surro
unding the Rajamangala Stadium in the Thai capital.
Germany, comprising Vettel and Schumacher, has been the team champions for the last five years. Rally driver Sebastien Ogier bagged the individual honours in 2011. —