Sydney, Feb 2 (UNI) Narain Karthikeyan familiarized himself with the track against the odds of changing weather and track conditions and improved the pace significantly in the qualifying session of the round 6 of the AIGP World Cup of Motorsport here today as A1 Team India will start at 13th place in tomorrow's Sprint race.
In the Sprint race qualifying session, Karthikeyan significantly improved his timing between Q1 and Q2 from 1:120.120 seconds to 1.19.004 seconds after switching to new tyres - closing the gap between Loic Duval of A1 Team France at P1, to less than tenth of a second.
For the first Feature race qualifying window, Karthikeyan went out on old tyres (used in the second qualifying window of the Sprint race) and clocked a time of 1:19.878 seconds and placed seventh.
Expecting to improve this by the second window the team changed to new tyres. Karthikeyan started off maintaining good speed but when he went wide on the second corner, he lost 3/7th of a second.
In an attempt to regain his pace, he pushed even harder and lost time as his tyres picked up more debris from the track which didn't clear up till the end of the lap rendering the car 'on edge'.
A1 Team India finished at a lap time of 1:19.951 seconds and will start 19th on the grid at the Feature race.
''We have been placed 13th for the Sprint and 19th for the Feature race tomorrow and we do face the risk of midfield traffic. I hope to pick up points from the Sprint race and as the Feature race provides the opportunity for overtaking, mainly at turns 2 and 8, we can hope to gain places on the grid and collect more points. A good pit stop strategy will be an important factor for tomorrow's race. I am aiming for a top 10 finish and to pick up more points for A1 Team India,'' Karthikeyan said.
The 22 participating nations took to the track under humid and cloudy conditions for the first 2 qualifying windows, the best of which determine the team's position in the Sprint race format.
However, by the time the third and fourth windows that determine the Feature race grid had opened, the weather had turned around completely and team's were surprised by sunshine and blue skies.
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