Auto GP: Karthikeyan Handed Maiden Victory at Silverstone
Narain Karthikeyan scored his maiden Auto GP win on Saturday at Silverstone in the UK after on-track victor Kevin Giovesi was given a one-minute post-race penalty. Driving for team Super Nova, Narain had initially crossed the line second behind the race winner Kevin Giovesi. But Giovesi’s Ghinzai Motorsport team was ruled to have made an illegal pitstop on the 14th lap of the race, which happened to be the last. The series’ sporting regulations state that mandatory pitstops can be made only between lap three and the penultimate lap.
Narain, who started on pole in race 1, had Giovesi and teammate Vittorio Ghirelli shadowing him right from the start. As the race progressed, it became a two-horse race as Karthikeyan and Giovesi carved an eight-second gap over the rest of the field by the mid-way mark. But the Indian driver had managed to keep a safe distance while leading the pack, until he pitted for his obligatory tyre change. The team didn’t have the cleanest of pitstops which resulted in Narain conceding the race lead, which he had held for 11 laps, to Giovesi.
Giovesi then pitted on the following lap and as expected, came out of the pits ahead of Karthikeyan. Despite struggling with some front tyre warmup issues, he challenged the Italian GP2 racer for the lead but Giovesi managed to cross the line three-tenths ahead.
This is what a very happy Karthikeyan had to say after the race:
I’m glad I got my first victory in Auto GP. I immediately found a good feeling with the car on a track like Silverstone and I managed to get the most from the package we had at our disposal.
Earlier this year, Narain didn’t have the best of starts to the season racing with the Zele Racing Auto GP team. He encountered reliability issues and many goof-ups during pitstops which robbed him of opportunities to finish strongly in previous rounds. Due to these reasons, Karthikeyan quit the team and later joined the reigning Auto GP champions, Super Nova for the Silverstone round. It proved to be a smart move as the ex-Formula 1 racing driver dominated the sessions on Friday and Saturday, proving his detractor wrong.