Narain 11th quickest in free practice at A1GP

January 23rd, 2009 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Taupo (New Zealand), Jan 23 (IANS) Team India commenced their run-up to this weekend’s A1 Grand Prix motorsports here Friday with a 11th position in the free practice session as Narain Karthikeyan clocked a best of one minute 16.836 seconds as against the session’s quickest time of 1:15.971 by Switzerland’s Neel Jani.Earlier, in the two rookie sessions, Parthiva Sureshwaren was ninth and 13th quickest in the Ferrari powered car.

Incidentally, Team India is without a sponsor following the pull out of Spice Energy. Both Karthikeyan and Sureshwaren paid their way to New Zealand.

Sureshwaren was a last minute replacement for Armaan Ebrahim who opted out after he was asked to pay $7,500 towards insurance cover.

In the free practice session that was marred by stoppages following on-track incidents, Karthikeyan did 29 laps and clocked his quickest on lap 14.

After the session, Karthikeyan said: “I am quite happy with the progress we made over the course of the practice session today. We tried several different options of the setup, and I’m quite positive that we have found some options which will allow us to go quicker over the course of the weekend.

“Unlike us, several of the drivers ahead of us put in their fastest laps towards the end of the session on new sets of tyres, so I’m confident of our pace.”

The 3.5 km Taupo Motorsport Park was slightly altered for last years’ race, with the introduction of a tight chicane at the end of the 830 meter back straight, to give the drivers an overtaking opportunity, something which is very difficult at this circuit, due to the narrow track and the winding nature of the lap.

This was the first time that the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars attacked the Taupo circuit, and both the A1 Team India drivers got one hour each of track time.

Sureshwaren said: “It’s great to be back behind the wheel of a racing car after almost nine months. The new car is a giant step forward from the old car. It is super-quick around this tight Taupo track, and seems to respond very well to even the smallest change in setup. It has all the characteristics of a well balanced race-car.”

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