Karthikeyan finishes 11th in Super Formula season
Narain Karthikeyan rounded off his second Super Formula season finishing 11th in the drivers’ standings, after the season finale at Suzuka last weekend.
For the final race weekend, Karthikeyan's sole aim was to finish on a high, inside the top 10 in the standings. In the sole practice session on Saturday, he was classified 16th, 1.437s behind pacesetter Andre Lotterer (Petronas Tom's SF14).
An engine failure - and the subsequent penalty - resigned him to the back of the grid for both races, even before qualifying kicked off.
Nevertheless, Karthikeyan took part in what was effectively a test session for the Indian, finishing ninth for the first race while 14th for the second.
"The balance of the car at the start was good, but there was a sense of incongruity because of the engine penalty," the Indian said.
"The first part was ok, but I made a mistake in the second qualifying which resulted in time loss."
Lotterer took pole for race one with Hiraoki Ishiura (P.MU Cerumo) finishing second and James Rossiter (Fuji D'station Kondo) third.
For the second race, Naoki Yamamoto (Team Mugen) finished on top as Lotterer was second and Tomoki Nojiri (Team Dandelion) third.
Gritty first race
Having qualified ninth, Karthikeyan was forced to start from 19th due to the penalty for race one. In the first of the race, the Indian had a duel with Daisuke Nakajima (Nakajima Racing).
With Nakajima retiring, the Indian moved to 16th by lap 11 fighting with William Buller
(Fuji D'station Kondo) till the end of the race.
Finally, on lap 18, Karthikeyan was able to overtake Buller and with other retirements in the race, the Indian finished 12th, on the cusp of points but not there.
Lotterer took a lights-to-flag victory as Ishiura was second and Kamui Kobayashi (Team Kygnus) third, completing the podium in the first race.
Fastest lap consolation
Starting from the back again for the final race of the season, Karthikeyan found it hard battling with Kobayashi first and then Andrea Caldarelli (Team Impul) at the start.
It was difficult to overtake at Suzuka as the Indian eventually crossed the line 14th, but this time behind Buller, after another hefty battle.
Yamamoto won the race from Kazuki Nakajima (Petronas Tom's SF14) and J.P Oliveira (Team Impul) while Karthikeyan registered the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m55.809s, a consolation for the hard weekend.
“It was a crazy weekend, lots of action packed into two days and our weekend was really finished when we had the engine failure," the Indian said after the race.
"The grid penalty didn’t really leave many choices – we just had to come through the field and finish as high up as possible."
Karthikeyan finished 11th in the drivers' championship with six points, all of which were scored at the season opener in Suzuka.
Ishiura was crowned the 2015 champion with 51.5 points as Nakajima was second with 45.5 points and Lotterer third with 40 points.
Reflecting on the tough second season, Karthikeyan said: “We have had a lot of issues – some we were responsible for while at other times it was just bad luck.
"But this is the most competitive championship I’ve been in till date. It really pushes you to the limits and there’s nowhere to hide."
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