Indian racer Narain Karthikeyan`s third round outing in the Super Formula started on a difficult note as he qualified 11th, struggling to adapt his car to the unique demands of the iconic Fuji Speedway here Saturday.
Karthikeyan will start on the sixth row for the 55-lap race Sunday having qualified in one minute and 24.380 seconds while pole position man Andrea Caldarelli lapped the circuit, situated at the foothills of Mount Fuji, in 1:22.667.
Karthikeyan`s last outing here in May was fraught with electronic and other mechanical issues. While none of those problems hampered him this time, the Team Lenovo Impul driver struggled to adapt his Dallara SF14 to certain sections of the circuit, particularly the last sector.
"It is a pretty unique circuit. The last sector is particularly tricky and to get it right consistently especially if you haven`t driven here too much is hard. We were often second or third through the first two splits and the top speed was also fine compared to last time. But the last sector just didn`t come to us," said a disappointed Karthikeyan.
"There is no excuse to be quick in some sectors and not in others. It is all about putting the lap together and that`s what the timing screen shows. Unfortunately, there were just too many mistakes on the qualifying lap."
The completely revamped Super Formula, formerly known as Formula Nippon, switched to a new Dallara SF14 chassis this year, powered by two-litre, 550 bhp turbocharged engines.
Talking about his chances Sunday, Karthikeyan said: "Luckily we`re okay on top speed so we should be able to get some overtaking done. If we can get a good start, pass a few cars, have quick pit stops and keep our nose clean, we should be able to bring in some solid points."