New Delhi: Indian racing superstar Narain Karthikeyan is all set for his second season in the Japan-based Super Formula Japan series, beginning at the legendary Suzuka Circuit on April 18.
The former Grand Prix driver is looking forward to make a mark at the historic venue, where he qualified second last year and establish himself as a consistent front runner in the fastest motor racing championship outside of Formula 1.
The 38-year-old had a mixed opening season with a sixth place finish at Fuji Speedway his best.
For the 2015 season, the series is scheduled to run eight rounds across Japan including yet another F1 venue with Okayama International Circuit joining Suzuka and Fuji Speedway. Okayama hosted two F1 races in 1994 and 1995 ? both won by Michael Schumacher.
“I am really excited to be back in Japan for season two, there was a lot of learning in the first year as Japanese circuits and conditions are extremely unique and experience plays a huge role in overall result,” said Karthikeyan.
“I feel prepared to take on the challenge and it is still not going to be easy because once again the grid is extremely strong,” the Tata backed driver added.
The most noteworthy addition to the Super Formula grid is former F1 podium finisher Kamui Kobayashi. Reigning champion and World Endurance Champion Kazuki Nakajima returns to defend his title, with his teammate Andre Lotterer in the mix as well.
Other big names likely to feature at the sharp end include former Force India F1 test driver James Rossiter, 2013 series champion Naoki Yamamoto and 2010 series champion Joao Paulo de Oliveira.
The Indian will partner youngster Tomoki Nojiri at Team Dandelion Racing, switching from Team Impulm he competed with last year, with his best result being sixth place finish at Fuji Speedway.
Karthikeyan has already completed two pre-season tests with his new team and seems satisfied with the progress.
“Conditions were tough during both tests we had at Suzuka and Okayama, with low temperatures and rain often curtailing running but looking at the pecking order the car seems to have a good baseline to build on,” he explained.
“This is my first time with the Honda engine (previous team was Toyota-powered) so we are working very hard with them to ensure that the package is competitive right from the opening round,” he said.
After being powered by naturally-aspirated V8 engines for well over a decade, Super Formula series switched to two-litre, 550bhp turbocharged engines in 2014 ? in line with new turbo Formula 1 regulations which also came in force last year.