F1 drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok guided Team India safely through the Race of Champions Asia event at in Bangkok, securing the place in both the Nations’ Cup and Race of Champions events to take place over the weekend.
In progressing through to the main event they will be joined by Supercar Thailand champion Nattavude Charoensukawattana and touring car driver Tin Sritrai, the pair winning through from the four man shootout to represent the home nation for the weekend.
In a final that decided their exact slots in the weekend’s draw it was 49-year-old Bangkok resident Charoensukawattana who took the honours.
“It was a great race today and I would like to thank all my fans because their support was powerful,” he said. “My experience helped but what was most important was that I didn’t make any mistakes. This is the first time we’ve had this event in Thailand and I hope it will come back next year too. If I have another opportunity next year I will definitely come here again.”
Having beaten their countrymen, and then faced each other, Charoensukawattana and Sritrai teamed up to form Team Thailand in the ROC Asia event, facing off against teams from India, China and Japan.
Despite having appeared in the Race of Champions before – when Beijing hosted the annual event in 2009 – China’s Ho–Pin Tung and Han Han failed to progress from the initial group stages the twosome only taking a pair of wins.
While Chandhok and Karthikeyan won their way through to the final, taking four wins from six races, the Japanese and Thai teams tied on three wins each, the home drivers only missing out on making it to the final on countback, the fastest times sending Toyota Team Japan Gazoo, with drivers Kazuya Ohshima and Takuto Iguchi through to race for a place in the main Race of Champions draw.
The Indian pairing won the final 2-0, both Karthikeyan and Chandhok, who plied his trade with JRM in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year, winning their heats to beat the Japanese team.
“This is the first time at the Race of Champions for both myself and Karun and I’ve really enjoyed this event so far,” said Karthikeyan. “It’s a unique format and it’s pretty tight and narrow out there. So it was a challenge to put a precise lap together in any of the cars. But it’s just about getting the best out of each car. You need to adapt very quickly without any mistakes as you need a clean lap. We’re happy to come out on top, now we can look forward to the rest of the event. We’re up for the challenge and we’ll take on the world tomorrow!”