Narain Karthikeyan kickstarts his 2014 Super Formula season with a front row start after qualifying second at Suzuka. The Indian will start the race on Sunday behind Andre Lotterer, the World Endurance champ and 24-hour Le Mans winner.
Improving over the course of the weekend, Narain and his team, Impul Hoshino Racing have consistently shown good pace. While he was down to seventh in free practice, Karthikeyan made a good recovery to qualify 0.541sec off the pole sitter. His teammate J.P Lima de Oliveria qualified fifth.
Like Formula One, Super Formula series too has had a complete makeover this season. For the first time in five years, the series, formerly known as Formula Nippon, gets a brand new car “SF14” that sports new Dallara chassis and a new 2.0-litre, 550bhp turbocharged engines. This season also adopts F1’s pattern of knockout qualifying with three sessions of 20 minutes of Q1, followed by 7 minutes of Q2 and Q3 each.
The 43-lap season opener will is held at the 5.8km long Suzuka Circuit with the drivers covering a total distance of 250km. Like F1, the Super Formula series opener promises to be an exciting one with completely new machines and a pool of extremely talented drivers taking the grid this Sunday.
The series comprises of eight rounds, seven in Japan and one in South Korea. And the best part about this spec-series is the fact that everyone has the same equipment and the same opportunity to win, something that Narain has relished in Auto GP last year. So will Karthikeyan manage to make a move on Andre going in to the first corner? Can he manage to fend off the rest of the field and step on the podium? Will his car be able to finish those gruelling 43 laps? We'll know for sure tomorrow. Stay tuned for our coverage.
1. Andre Lotterer (Team Tom’s Toyota)
2. Narain Karthikeyan (Team Impul Toyota)
3. Kazuki Nakajima (Team Tom’s Toyota)
4. James Rossiter (Team Kondo Toyota)
5. J.P Lima de Oliveira (Team Impul Toyota)