Gearbox problem forces Karthikeyan’s retirement at Motegi
Pitstop issues, several incidents and a torrential downpour made it one of the most action-packed races of the season, although the Indian didn’t get the opportunity to experience most of it.
“After catching up to the competition massively in a limited time, the crazy rain-hit race was the best opportunity to get a solid result out of it but unfortunately we didn’t get that far,” said Karthikeyan, who started 12th on the grid.
The former Formula 1 driver executed another one of his customary lightning getaway at the start, gaining two places on the tight and twisty Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
Running in the top 10, Karthikeyan pitted on lap 13, pushing hard on his in-lap and jumped Kunimoto during the pitstop.
Exiting the pits on cold tyres, the Indian drove on the limit and closed upon his old F1 rival Vitantonio Liuzzi.
In the meanwhile, he had also been battling an intermittent gearbox issue since lap 10, which was affecting the downshift under braking.
As the laps ticked past, the problem worsened and resultantly he went off track under braking whilst battling with the Italian on lap 20.
Two laps later, the gearbox went completely belly-up, leaving the car stuck in fifth gear and forcing Karthikeyan into the pits for retirement.
“Most of track is made up of slow, second gear, corners so it was impossible to continue,” said Karthikeyan.
Three rounds remain in the season, with two scheduled in September at Autopolis and Sportsland Sugo Circuit followed by the season finale at the Suzuka Circuit in November.