It was a difficult but gritty outing for Indian Narain Karthikeyan in the fifth round of the Super Formula Japan series at Autopolis last weekend.
Coming into the fifth round, Indian ace Karthikeyan was ninth in the championship with Hiroaki Ishiura leading the standings.
The Docomo Dandelion driver finished second in the first practice session, 0.046s off the table topper Kazuki Nakajima (Petronas Tom's SF14).
A solid first session was followed by a difficult qualifying, as the former Formula 1 driver was knocked out in the first part, finishing only 17th. Championship leader Ishiura took pole from Kamui Kobayashi (Kygnus Sunoco) and Nakajima.
The second practice session on Sunday ahead of the race saw Karthikeyan finish sixth as Team Impul's Andrea Caldarelli finished on top.
While starting from the back of the grid, the Indian driver made five places in the opening lap to move up to 12th from 17th. He made further inroads and moved one place up to 11th by lap six.
But it wasn't easy as he started losing positions and dropped to 14th by lap 18. Karthikeyan was then involved in a duel with Takashi Kogure in the later stages of the race.
The Indian took 13th from Kogure on lap 46, but the Japanese driver came back and took back his position on lap 52 leaving Karthikeyan at 14th in the fifth round.
The current Toyota Endurance driver Nakajima won the race with Ishiura finishing second and Kobayashi rounding off the podium.
Ishiura maintains his championship lead with 41 points as Karthikeyan dropped to 10th with six points.