Former Indian Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok’s first sportscar appearance at the Sebring 12 Hours – the opening round of the FIA's new World Endurance Championship unfortunately didn’t go to plan after an untimed mechanical failure put paid to the team’s debut podium chances.
After qualifying sixth overall with David Brabham in the inaugural race of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, the team’s hopes of a top-three finish in the Honda Performance Development (HPD) ARX-03a were dashed by a suspension failure.
The problem cropped in the 10th hour of the 12-hour race, and lengthy repairs were necessary which meant the team lost about 15 laps in the process, leading to an almost 30-minute deficit.
Once back on the track, a great recovery resulted in a final placing of 17th overall, 12th in the FIA World Endurance Championship standings and seventh in the LMP1 category.
An early snag during the reconnaissance lap meant Brabham was forced into the pits which put him right at the back of the grid in the formation lap. However, not much seemed lost as the Aussie made short work of the 64-field and was back in the top ten just 40 minutes later.
From then on, drivers steadily improved positions in each stint, and at half-way mark, the JRM entry was slotted in a comfortable fourth after one of the works Audis and the Rebellion Lola ran into troubles.
After a safety car period, a brave move from Dumbreck saw him move into P3, passing the Muscle Milk JRM Honda. However, the team’s joy was short-lived as after nine-hours and 20 minutes of faultless running, a component in the right-rear suspension gave way.
Dumbreck came into the pits and the car was taken back to the team's garage and, it was only 30 minutes later that it reappeared on the track. The team had dropped to 25th overall in standings by then, and it was Chandhok in the seat for the final stint. He managed to salvage the best of opportunities and brought the car home in 17th place. Discounting the mechanical issues though, the JRM car showed that the team has the potential of being a consistent FIA WEC frontrunner.
The second round of the newly reinstated championship will see the teams heading to Spa, for the Six Hours of Spa on May 5th.