India’s first F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan is set to test a Super GT car on an “imminent” basis, as he weighs up his option for 2018.
Super GT is Japan’s premier racing championship and features the world’s fastest grand touring cars. At Fuji Speedway, the only comparable track, Super GT machines have proved quicker than privateer LMP1 cars.
The series is also heavy on manufacturer involvement, with Japan’s big-three carmakers, Toyota (through Lexus), Honda and Nissan all having factory teams.
Asked whether he would be interested in racing in Super GT, Karthikeyan gave an affirmative reply to Motorsport.com: “Yes, definitely. I think it is again very competitive with a lot of manufacturer support.
“These are the fastest tin-top racers in the world with lots of downforce, and I like those characteristics.
“The venues also are familiar but at the moment it's open and a Super GT test is imminent.”
Super GT received worldwide attention when 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button took part in its blue-riband event, the Suzuka 1000km in August.
The Englishman is expected to make a move-full time transition to the Japanese series next year.
Super Formula struggles
Since his second stint in F1 came to an end, Karthikeyan has been racing in another top-tin Japanese series, Super Formula.
He has had a fair degree of success in the series, scoring podiums in 2015 and ‘16. However, the 40-year-old endured a particularly tricky 2017 season, failing to score points.
Karthikeyan feels that he simply couldn’t string together a perfect weekend and particularly struggled in qualifying - a crucial session in a series which is known to be notoriously difficult for overtaking.
“Despite what the results might say, I don’t think pace was an issue this year and it was just a clear case of not putting the weekend together – it's just so competitive that every small slip up is punished,” he explained.
“We had a fast car since the Motegi race weekend but given the high downforce characteristics of Super Formula cars it is almost impossible to overtake at most of the venues," he said.
“We didn’t manage to nail the qualifying on many occasions and then it is just an uphill battle in the race trying to make up positions after starting too far back.
“The grid is very competitive; all cars are within the same second in some tracks closer so unless the guy ahead makes a mistake or suffers a bad pitstop, it is impossible to move up the order significantly.”