Tochigi, Japan: A spin at the final corner during Q2 dented Narain Karthikeyan`s qualifying in the fourth round of the Super Formula single seater racing series at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit here Saturday.
After finishing the first segment of qualifying in fourth position and looking set to progress into Q3 comfortably, the Indian eventually ended up 14th after going off at the final corner on a hot lap that was good enough for a top six position.
Visiting the Tochigi venue after a gap of 13 years since he first competed in the erstwhile Formula Nippon series back in 2001, it was expected to be a tough weekend from the start given the extremely technical nature of the circuit in addition to the recent experience his competitors enjoy at the 4.8-kilometre venue.
"The track is virtually new for me and quite technical and you are up against competition which knows their way around very well," said Karthikeyan.
"It is a difficult situation because the series doesn`t allow much testing but I think we made a lot of progress in the limited time on offer. At the end of Friday practice we were 1.3 seconds off and at the end of morning practice the gap was only six-tenths."
The Indian made a further step forward in qualifying, as the gap whittled down to merely two-tenths to his pole-setter teammate J P de Oliveria. He finished Q1 in a strong fourth place and half-way into Q2, looked set for a top-eight slot (progression into Q3).
On his fast lap, the Indian was just about two-tenths off his teammate after the first two sectors but ended up attacking the final corner with a bit too much gusto that forced him off the circuit and ended his session prematurely.
"When you are trying to find a lot of lap time in a short duration you need to push very hard and sometimes it can just end up being a bit too much.
"My teammate is super-fast here, and compared to him we were not more than three-tenths off at any point, so we could have definitely qualified in the top six or even better."
For the 52-lap race tomorrow, overtaking is expected to be difficult given the twisty, technical nature of the track.