Chennai: One of India's top racing drivers Armaan Ebrahim will compete in the Blancpain GT World Series that gets underway at the French track of Nogaro this weekend with six former Formula 1 drivers and several former GT champions also in the fray.
The championship comprises seven rounds featuring 14 races with 20 cars forming the grid for the full season with a couple of extra cars expected at each round on a race-by-race basis. The first round of two races will be held Sunday and Monday, the latter being a holiday in France.
Chennai-based Armaan, 24, took his first podium in a GT car with the BMW Sports Trophy Team India last season in his maiden race in the FIA GT1 Championship.
"This is the toughest grid that I have been part of with as many as six F1 drivers and many others with a lot of experience in GT racing," said Armaan, who is teaming up with British driver Benjamin Hetherington in the Fortec Motorsport team competing in the Silver Cup.
The newly-created Silver Cup is reserved for Silver drivers aged Under-25 and who can also pocket the additional prize money awarded to the class, allowing for a 50,000 euros reward for winning a race overall.
Armaan will be up against the likes of Tomas Enge, Andrea Montermini, Giorgio Pantano, Nelson Piquet Jr., Marcus Winkelhock and Alex Zanardi who have a combined experience of 118 F1 Grands Prix under their belt.
The series will feature two one-hour races per race weekend with a window between 25 to 35 minutes for driver change-over. The qualifying is based on the aggregate qualifying time of both the drivers of a team.
"It will be interesting to see how Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 holds up against the title favourite Audi. The team that I have signed up with is a very professional team that has won almost every championship in single-seater classes," said Armaan, who debuted in global racing as a 15-year-old in 2005.
"We finalised our agreement pretty late and I have not had the opportunity to test the car which means that the qualifying will be my first go-behind-the-wheels of this one. We are confident of doing well as the season progresses.
"Unlike in F1 where the chassis and engine are the same for all, GT is a competition between the most popular car manufacturers in the world such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Nissan, Ferrari and Nissan among others and a lot will depend on the balance of performance criteria to be adopted by the organisers," added Armaan.