Karthikeyan retires with gearbox issues
Posted on Aug 24 2014 | IANS
Motegi (Japan), Aug 24 : A gearbox issue cost Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan a strong finish after an incident-packed Super Formula fourth round that concluded at the Twin Ring Motegi here Sunday.
Pitstop issues, racing incidents and a torrential downpour made it one of the most action-packed races of the season, although the Indian didn't get the opportunity to experience most of it.
"After catching up to the competition massively in limited time, the crazy rain-hit race was the best opportunity to get a solid result out of it but unfortunately we didn't get that far," Karthikeyan said.
Starting 12th on the grid, Karthikeyan executed a lightning getaway to gain two places on the tight and twisty circuit.
Running strong in the top-10, Karthikeyan pitted on Lap 13, pushing hard on his in-lap and jumped Kunimoto during the pit stop. Exiting the pits on cold tyres, the Indian drove on the limit and closed upon his old Formula 1 rival Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Meanwhile, he had also been battling an intermittent gearbox issue since Lap 10 which was affecting the downshift under braking. As the laps ticked past, the problem worsened and resultantly he went off track under braking while battling with the Italian Liuzzi on Lap 20.
Two laps later the gearbox went completely belly-up, leaving the car stuck in fifth gear and forcing Narain into the pits for retirement.
"Most of the track is made up of slow, second gear corners so it was impossible to continue. So far we haven't had a normal, clean weekend in the season but that can be expected in a championship as intense and closely competitive as this," said Karthikeyan.
"Almost everything is new, so obviously we can't expect everything to fall in place right from the start. Just having the pace isn't enough. We need to be able to put the weekend together which hopefully will happen in the upcoming races."
Three rounds remain in the season with two scheduled in September at Autopolis and Sportsland SUGO followed by the finale at the Suzuka Circuit in November.
Karthikeyan currently sits in 11th position out of 20 drivers with 4.5 points in four rounds.