Dubai [UAE], February 11 (ANI): Padma Shri Awardee and India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan wants to get the job done when Racing Team India takes its first step on the road to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend at the season-opening round of the Asian Le Mans Series in Dubai.
The all-Indian squad, spearheaded by a star-studded driver line-up of Karthikeyan, Arjun Maini, and Naveen Rao, will compete in the LMP2 category over two, four-hour-long races at the Dubai Autodrome. The endeavour is partnered by JK Tyre, India’s largest supporter of Motorsport for over three decades.
The two runnings of the 4 Hours of Dubai will take place on February 13 and 14, respectively. The series will then move to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit for another round of two, four-hour races on February 19th and 20th.
“Le Mans is one the greatest races in the world and I want to go back and get the job the done. Not only drive there but be really competitive,” said Karthikeyan in the virtual press conference on Thursday.
“It is an incredibly proud moment for me to be representing our nation’s first all-Indian endurance racing team. I have flown the flag for our country across various motorsport disciplines from Formula One to NASCAR and SuperGT racing,” he further said.
“I’ve raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans once before, and it was an incredible experience, one which I always wanted to repeat. However, I couldn’t have imagined anything better than to compete there for an Indian team. I’m extremely grateful to the ACO for giving us the platform to compete,” Karthikeyan added.
Racing Team India’s Dubai debut will make it the first outfit with an all-Indian driver line-up to compete in international endurance racing.
If it secures an invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which takes place in June 2021, it will become the first squad flying the Indian tri-colour to take part in the iconic twice-around-the-clock endurance classic at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France.
Karthikeyan ended the first day of testing, also held in Dubai, at the top of the timesheets. The success of the project lies in the combined efforts of the team which are now being synchronized
“As for the weekend ahead, I’m looking forward to it. Arjun, Naveen, and I have considerable racing experience between the three of us. Our package has also been quick through testing,” said Karthikeyan
“We did have some issues on the second day with traffic and difficulty in switching on the new tyres. But there’s a lot of speed in the car and I’m confident we can deliver a strong result on our debut,” he added.
The race is considered to be one of the trifectas of legendary motor races alongside the Monaco GP and the Indianapolis 500. It is the world’s oldest sports car race, which has been held every year since 1923. The distance covered in this one single race is equivalent to 18 Formula 1 races, thus making it the most extreme test of man and machine in the world of motorsport.
Former F2 and European Le Mans Series racer Arjun Maini said, “Firstly, it’s great to be back behind the wheel again, and to be flying the colours for an all-Indian team makes the experience even more special. Endurance racing is a format I’ve come to enjoy during my time racing in the European Le Mans series. I believe it plays to my strengths as a driver.”
“It feels strange to think that of the three of us I have the most endurance racing experience. I’ve competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and I can tell you it’s an incredible feeling. I’m really looking forward to going back there. We have a strong package, a proven driver line-up and with support from Algarve Pro Racing, who I know well, I believe we have all the ingredients in place to make it happen,” he added.
Fielding the Le Mans-winning ORECA 07 with technical support from reigning Asian Le Mans Series champion team Algarve Pro Racing, Racing Team India has already displayed a promising turn of speed. The car has a 4-litre V-8 engine which produces 600 bhp and has a top speed in excess of 320 kmph.
2020 IMSA Prototype Challenge Champion Naveen Rao said, “My entire career has been spent racing sports cars and for me, Le Mans is the absolute pinnacle of competition. I have spent a long time dreaming about one day driving in this iconic event and I am grateful for the opportunity to do it for a team representing the country in which I have my roots.” (ANI)
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SEAT BROKEN BY GLENN MAXWELL’S SIX TO BE AUCTIONED FOR CHARITY
WELLINGTON: Australia star batsman Glenn Maxwell’s whirlwind 31-ball 70 not only tore apart the Kiwis bowling attack in the third T20I, but also one of his sixes broke a seat in the stands as he smashed 28 runs off a James Neesham over.
After a string of low scores, Maxwell entered demolition mode in the third T20I and launched two mammoth sixes in the 17th over. One of those two sixes was hit with sheer power and ended up breaking a seat at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
The seat which Maxwell destroyed during his sensational knock against New Zealand will be put up for auction. After the game, Maxwell signed the seat so it can be auctioned off for charity.
Riding on skipper Aaron Finch, Maxwell and Ashton Agar’s performances, Australia bounced back in the series with a comfortable win over New Zealand.
AHEAD OF THE FOURTH TEST ENGLAND PLAYERS FALL SICK
AHMEDABAD: Ahead of the fourth test, England’s campaign against India has been disrupted by a sickness bug that has swept through the camp.
A sudden rise in temperature here has affected the visitors with a few members, including assistant coach Paul Collingwood, reportedly suffering from diarrhoea.
England captain Joe Root confirmed that a bug has hit the camp without confirming what it was or how many were affected. “There’s been a little bit of stuff flying around. We’ll keep monitoring it. To be honest, I don’t know exactly who’s been affected badly at this stage but it’s just really important we try and give everyone the best chance of being available for selection ahead of this game,” Root told British media.
India captain Virat Kohli, however, confirmed that India players are fit and fine with none of the players contracting any ailment.
“There are no health concerns or health issues. Everyone is fit and fine. Probably, (England players) would have been caught by a change in weather. It has been pretty hot over the last couple of days. It was pretty pleasant the first few days,” Kohli said.
RAHUL FIRM AT THE SECOND SPOT, KOHLI MOVES TO SIXTH
New Zealand left-hander Devon Conway and opener Martin Guptill may have missed out on centuries in the first two T20Is of their home series against Australia, but the duo made significant gains in the latest ICC men’s T20I rankings. India batsman KL Rahul has retained his second spot in the batsmen rankings while skipper Virat Kohli has moved one spot to attain the sixth spot.
Conway’s 99 not out in the Christchurch opener has helped him gain 46 spots and reach 17th position after just eight matches while Guptill, who has reached as high as second in the past, has gained three slots to reach 11th position after his knock of 97 in Dunedin. In what is a chance for both sides to prepare for this year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in India, New Zealand took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series and had some other fine performances too that resulted in significant gains for their players.
Glenn Philips and Jimmy Neesham have moved up in the list for batsmen while Tim Southee (up to one place to sixth), Mitchell Santner (up to two places to seventh), Ish Sodhi (up to three places to 11th), and Trent Boult (up 24 places to 49th) have progressed in the bowlers’ list.
For Australia, Marcus Stoinis’s knock of 78 in the second match sees him gain 77 places to reach 110th position. Matthew Wade (up from 132nd to 118th) among batsmen and Jhye Richardson (re-entered at 115th) among bowlers are the others to gain from the mid-series update as per the new system which sees a weekly update for all women’s player rankings on Tuesday and those for men on Wednesday.
NEVER INTENDED TO INSULT ANY LEAGUE: STEYN APOLOGISES FOR IPL COMMENT
MUMBAI: After sparking controversy over his remarks on the Indian Premier League (IPL), South Africa pacer Dale Steyn on Wednesday issued an apology and said his remarks were “never intended to be degrading, insulting, or comparing of any leagues”.
Taking to Twitter, Steyn wrote: “IPL has been nothing short of amazing in my career, as well as other players too. My words were never intended to be degrading, insulting, or comparing of any leagues. Social media and words out of context can often do that. My apologies if this has upset anyone. Much love,” he added. The speedster had said that sometimes emphasis may be placed on the amount a player is bought for in the IPL and as a result, cricket ends up taking a backseat.
The pacer had also hinted that other leagues are more rewarding to him as a player as compared to the most successful domestic T20 league — IPL. Steyn is currently playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the ongoing Pakistan Super League.
“I wanted some time off. I found that playing in these other leagues was slightly more rewarding as a player. I think when you go to IPL, there are such big squads and so many big names and so much emphasis on maybe the amount of money players earn and everything like that, so sometimes, somewhere down the line, cricket gets forgotten,” Steyn had told Cricket Pakistan.
India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday rubbished all the claims which stated that sometimes the emphasis is on the money in the IPL rather than the game. Rahane, who has even captained teams in the showpiece event, said the IPL gave players the perfect platform to express themselves in the shortest format of the game.
“See, I am here to talk about the fourth Test match and not here to talk about PSL or Sri Lanka Premier League. IPL gave us that platform to express ourselves and also to a lot of Indians players. I am not sure what Dale Steyn has said, I am here to talk about this Test match,” Rahane had said during a virtual press conference.
AGAR SCALPS SIX AS AUSSIES THRASH BLACKCAPS IN 3RD T20I
Skipper Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell smashed half centuries before Ashton Agar spun a web over the Kiwi batsmen to steer Australia to a 64-run win over New Zealand in the third T20I on Wednesday.
New Zealand was 109/3 at one stage, but Agar wreaked havoc and picked six wickets to bundle out the hosts for 144. Agar turned the game in Australia’s favour with three wickets in the 13th over. New Zealand now lead the five-match series 2-1. For James Neesham it was an unforgettable night as he not only went wicketless, but also leaked runs at an economy rate of 15. The all-rounder was also dismissed for a golden duck despite coming in the game on the back of a stellar performance in the second T20I.
Chasing a mammoth 209, New Zealand got off to a bad start as they lost opener Tim Seifert in the second over. Debutant Riley Meredith conceded a six and a four in his first over, but took a wicket off the last ball.
New Zealand seemed well on track as the hosts ended the powerplay with 59 runs on board. In the ninth over, Adam Zampa got the wicket of the dangerous Guptill.
Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips then played risk-free cricket to ensure the hosts didn’t suffer any more hiccups during the chase. Just when their partnership started flourishing,
Brief Scores: Australia 208/4 (Glenn Maxwell 70, Aaron Finch 69; Ish Sodhi 2-32); New Zealand 144 (Martin Guptill 43, Devon Conway 38; Ashton Agar 6-30)
AFTER EXCRUCIATING STRUGGLES, SIMRAN BAHADUR FINALLY GETS HER DREAM CALL
Medium pacer and southpaw batsman Simran Dil Bahadur has received a dream call to represent India’s National Women Cricket Team in the upcoming T20I series against South Africa. The series will commence from 20 March, and Simran is deeply immersed in her preparations.
Talking to The Sunday Guardian about this opportunity, Simran said, “I was selected in the last IPL but could not find a berth in the playing eleven.”
“Now again, I am working hard,” Simran continued, “to find my place in the forthcoming T-20 series against South Africa.”
Simran is a natural out-swing bowler but can move the ball in both directions. Moreover, she is a sturdy option for middle-order batting. Simran, who scored two fifties in the domestic matches last year, is pretty confident about finding her place in the playing eleven.
“If allowed to play in the main squad, I am sure I would perform well in 3 match series,” the all-rounder said. “Representing the country would be a great moment for me,”
The 21-year-old cricketer has closely been following the Indian Pacer Ishant Sharma who has also played in the Rohtak Road Cricket Club and was groomed well under the guidance of Cricket Coach Sharvan Kumar.
Shravan Kumar told The Daily Guardian that Simran is a consistent hardworker, has good stamina, and her fitness and agility give her an upper hand to stand out and outperform in the fielding department.
“When she came to me for the first time,” Kumar said, “Simran was going to take up a private job, but at my behest, she made changed her mind and started working hard to realise her dream,”
“Simran is a genuine all-rounder. I firmly believe that with her capability and skill-set, she can make a permanent place in the National Team,” the coach said.
Simran has already played against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the under-23 side for India. “But now with her inclusion in the senior team,” Kumar expresses, “it seems that it has increased my lifespan.”
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