Fuji Speedway: Karthikeyan Struggles to 11th Place on Grid

Fuji Speedway (Japan)
Fuji Speedway: Karthikeyan Struggles to 11th Place on Grid

As he struggled to negotiate a tricky last sector at the iconic Fuji Speedway circuit, India's Narain Karthikeyan could manage only the 11th place on the grid for the third round of the Super Formula championship, here today.

Karthikeyan will start on the sixth row for the 55-lap race tomorrow, having qualified 0.713 seconds behind pole position, secured by Andrea Caldarelli with fastest lap of 1:22.667.

Karthikeyan’s last outing at Fuji Speedway back in May was fraught with electronics and other mechanical issues but while things were much better this time around, the Team Lenovo Impul driver struggled to adapt his Dallara SF14 to certain sections of the circuit – particularly the last sector.

The qualifying session today turned out to be an intensely close affair – with 0.7 seconds covering the top 10 drivers.

"It is a pretty unique circuit – the last sector especially is particularly tricky and hard to get it right consistently – especially if you haven’t driven here too much," a disappointed Karthikeyan said.

"We were often second or third through the first two splits, and the top speed was also fine compared to last time – but the last sector just didn’t come to us," he added.

"There is no excuse to be quick in some sectors and not in others – it is all about putting the lap together and that’s what the timing screen shows. Unfortunately, there were just too many mistakes on the qualifying lap today. Normally 0.7 seconds means you’re still likely to be in the top six or top eight, but with all top drivers so close – it pushed us outside the top 10."

Earlier in the season, Karthikeyan had shown strong pace straightaway on his championship debut, qualifying on the front row at Suzuka Circuit in April, followed by bringing home the first points last time out at Fuji in May.

"Luckily we're ok on top speed, so we should be able to get some overtaking done tomorrow," said Karthikeyan when asked about his chances in the race.

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