Suzuka, 19 April 2015: Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian to reach the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula One, scored a brilliant podium place Super Formula Japan Series here on Sunday. Andrew Lotterer, of Le Mans fame, won the season opener beating reigning champion Kazuki Nakajima to second. Narain’s teammate Nojiri also finished in points in 8th.
The race, the fastest outside Formula One, attracted 51,000 Sunday crowd.
Karthikeyan, who joined Docomo Dandelion Racing team this year, to switch to a Honda engine, finished third after starting from second place.
After initial hiccups where he fell back to 5th place, the Coimbatore-based Indian driver, showed his class to move up two place and managed to take a podium after 43 laps of gruelling race in Suzuka, considered as one of his favourite tracks. Narain had his pit stop in lap 30.
“I had a bad start. But I was happy with the race pace. It is definitely pleasing considering the quality of the field. This is my first podium in the super series and I am very happy,” said Karthikeyan, in a team release in Japanese.
“You are competing against guys like Lotterer, who won the WEC (World Endurance Championship) opening race just last week. Then you have former F1 drivers like Nakajima and Kobayashi (Kamui), who has been on the F1 podium. So surely a good result and promising start,” he added.
“It’s been 16 years since I won in F3 in Britain – an awfully long time for talent to come through in a nation with a billion-plus people!,” mused Narain in a tweet last week remembering his win on April 10, 16 seasons back.
eom/translation by Sumitra MB