Hulkenberg disappointed by inability to defend Le Mans

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LONDON – Force India Formula 1 driver Nico Hulkenberg is disappointed that he will be unable to defend the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche in 2016 due to a clash with the European Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg became the first active F1 driver in 24 years to win Le Mans as he piloted the no. 19 car to victory alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

However, with both Le Mans and the European Grand Prix set to take place on June 19 next year, it is unlikely that Hulkenberg will get the chance to return to the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Race of Champions, Hulkenberg said that the clash was a disappointment not only for himself, but also for other drivers who may have wanted to take part in the race.

“Yeah I think for sure,” he said. “I think there was a big appetite and interest from many drivers to go and get a little teaser of endurance racing and Le Mans in particular.

“For me, for sure, being champion now and not being able to go back and defend it is disappointing.”

Although Hulkenberg said he was unable to do much so he could take part in the 2016 race, he said that he would jump at the next opportunity to go to Le Mans.

“It’s something that’s completely out of my control and out of my hands,” Hulkenberg said.

“I just have to go with whatever the calendar is and what’s decided, and wait until the next chance.”

Porsche is planning to keep Hulkenberg’s place in the third car open until the 2016 calendars are finalized, but should he be unable to race, it is likely that GP2 driver Mitch Evans or outgoing McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen will step in following a test in Barcelona earlier this month.