Karthikeyan returns to Toyota from Honda in Super Formula

Former F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan has joined Toyota's roster for his fourth season in Japan's top single-seater series Super Formula.

The 39-year-old Indian was unveiled as the driver of the Toyota-powered #8 car for Sunoco Team LeMans, where he will be teammate to fellow ex-F1 racer Kamui Kobayashi.

In effect, the Indian replaces Toyota junior Ryo Hirakawa, who raced for Team LeMans between 2013 and 2015 but will instead focus on Super GT and a yet-to-be-announced drive in ELMS this year.

"It was a good, busy off-season for us – trying to make things happen and soon we were able to come to a conclusion for the 2016 campaign and I am really looking forward to getting back in the car," said Karthikeyan.“

“Le Mans is one of the top Super Formula teams with a rich history and I want to use all their experience and know how in Japan to deliver a consistent and winning campaign."

Karthikeyan, who raced for Jordan and HRT in F1, had made his debut in Super Formula (then named Formula Nippon) back in 2001 with Impul.

He ran for Impul again in 2014, but joined Docomo Team Dandelion in 2015, trading a Toyota-powered machine for one with a Honda engine.

His first and only podium in the series thus far came in the 2015 season opener at Suzuka - but he would go without scoring again for the rest of that campaign.

The Indian is looking forward to race alongside Kobayashi and work in tandem to boost the chances of the team.

"Kobayashi is an extremely fast driver and will be a good benchmark, he was on the F1 podium at Suzuka [2012] and coupled with his experience on other Japanese circuits, will be a formidable teammate and rival," he added.

“Of course we will work together to get the best results for the team, pushing each other throughout."

The newly-vacated seat at Docomo, meanwhile, could feasibly end up going to McLaren protege and GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne, who had tested with the team late last year.

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About this article
Series Super Formula
Drivers Narain Karthikeyan
Article type Breaking news