AGONY AND EC­STASY

India Today - - LEISURE -

The new Ama­zon orig­i­nal, Le Mans: Rac­ing is Ev­ery­thing, ef­fec­tively cap­tures the emo­tional roller­coaster driv­ers ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing what’s ar­guably the most iconic race in mo­tor sport. And I should know: I was ac­tu­ally driv­ing in the 2015 edi­tion of the 24-hour race that fea­tures in the doc­u­men­tary.

The six-part se­ries fol­lows var­i­ous dis­tinct char­ac­ters—rook­ies, vet­er­ans, driv­ers at the top and teams that are hav­ing a night­mare run. Film­maker James Ersk­ine and his team have been able to tell the story of the whole Le Mans week, in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing that hap­pens off the track.

Watch­ing some of the heartache sto­ries was a bit dif­fi­cult for me, be­cause they in­volved friends of mine— Mark Web­ber, Bren­don Hart­ley and Jann Mar­den­bor­ough. They were also mo­ments that I can to­tally re­late to. Though rac­ing at Le Mans is truly one of the great­est ex­pe­ri­ences for a rac­ing driver, it can also be one of the worst. I re­mem­ber a par­tic­u­lar race in 2014 where we were very fast but I ended up in a crash with eight other cars dur­ing a rain­storm that ended our chances.

Ersk­ine does es­pe­cially well in com­mu­ni­cat­ing how im­por­tant team­work is at an event like this. Un­like For­mula 1, at Le Mans you have three driv­ers shar­ing the same car and the dy­namic be­tween them is key to suc­cess. The driv­ers all have to get along and com­pro­mise in the in­ter­est of the team. This is a unique and tricky bal­ance when you’re in­volv­ing highly com­pet­i­tive in­di­vid­u­als who are used to be­ing self­ish sports­men.

The other an­gle that’s cap­tured well is the fam­ily per­spec­tive. For ex­am­ple, in one of the episodes, the cam­era crew vis­its the home of Dar­ren Turner to speak with his wife Katie about her feel­ings on the risks in­volved. Le Mans re­mains one of the most dan­ger­ous races in the world where driv­ers get hurt ev­ery year. I of­ten think back to the race in 2013 when Dar­ren’s team­mate, Al­lan Si­mon­sen, was killed. As driv­ers, we ac­cept the risks in­volved, but the film re­minds us—and shows view­ers—how hard it is for the wives and par­ents to watch from the side­lines, know­ing that when the driver leaves the pit lane, he might not come back alive. —Karun Chand­hok is a rac­ing driver and the first

and only In­dian to com­pete at Le Mans

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