Narain Karthikeyan started Round 6 in the 2018 Super Formula series at Okayama with a 10th place finish in the Saturday practice in his #64 TCS Nakajima Racing Honda car with teammate Takuya Izawa in 14th.
In a wet qualifying, Karthikeyan made it through to Q2 as Izawa missed on a place by 0.090s after finishing 15th in Q1. However, an engine issue left the former Formula 1 driver in a spot of bother in Q2 as he could only do one lap to eventually finish 14th.
Team Impul Toyota's Yuhi Sekiguchi claimed pole in the end beating KCMG Toyota's Kamui Kobayashi by only 0.020s with Team Impul's Ryo Hirakawa ending up in third. Dandelion's Tomoki Nojiri in fourth was the lead Honda driver.
The relentless rain at Okayama nearly got the race canceled but the organisers wanted to stage it especially after the round at Autopolis got canceled earlier in the year and they couldn't afford to have so many races canceled.
After several delays, the race eventually started behind the safety car but was soon red-flagged due to bad conditions. It was enough for Karthikeyan to drop down to last though after his car stalled on the grid at the start of the race.
The race was already trimmed to 54 laps but later was turned to a timed running with only 18 laps possible in the end. It had multiple safety car periods but the drivers were largerly unharmed with no major incidents reported.
After his early troubles, it was for Karthikeyan to claw back into the points position but it wasn't easy in the damp conditions as the Indian could only manage 14th in the end. He gained a position due to a penalty to his rival after the race to be 13th.
Teammate Izawa suffered a spin to finish 14th behind Karthikeyan after the penalty. At the front through, Sekiguchi and Kobayashi were involved a good fight for the win. The latter overtook the pole-sitter early on in the race.
But the former stayed with him throughout and a safety car helped him to capitalise on a mistake from Kobayashi to take the lead and win his first race of the season with Kobayashi scoring his first podium. Hirakawa completed the Top 3.
Points leader Nick Cassidy extended his lead over rival Hiroaki Ishiura after the former finished fifth to the latter's seventh. They are only four points apart as Karthikeyan sits 14th with four points as they head into the finale at Suzuka during October 26-27 weekend.
About the Author
Darshan Chokhani is a FIA Accredited journalist covering both Indian and International championships, including Formula 1, MotoGP, Formula E, World Endurance Championship and more. Although specialising in motor racing, but follows Cricket, Tennis, WWE and events involving Indian athletes.