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Formula for the fast lane

Narain Karthikeyan.

FOR HIM life is a journey between fast forward mode and slow motion. Narain Karthikeyan - the fastest Indian on wheels is in slow motion these days as he is on a whirlwind tour of India, refreshing himself before the crucial June 22 round at Monza, Italy, where he has to set the track on fire to consolidate his position in Telefonica Nissan World Series. Narain is currently ranked third in the series, which is rated between Formula 3 and Formula1 in the circuit.

On the prospects of his progression to F1, Narain frankly admits: "Though I have successfully test-driven for Team Jaguar and Jordan Honda and even podium finish in F1 is achievable but talent alone can't get you through in this sport as luck also plays an important role. You must have the backing of a big corporate house as the man I beat qualified for F1 as he had the backing of Honda."

But now things have changed for better as Tata group is backing him besides JK tyres and Amaron. "We are some 20-25 years late in terms of corporate backing as Latin America which had similar economic conditions produced icons like Ayrton Senna, decades back. It's only a few years ago that Indian multinationals have realised that motor sport is an easy way to go global and look at the results! Karun Chandok and Parthiv are doing remarkably well on the international circuit," remarks Narain, who is modesty personified in a land, where sports stars are given larger than life status.

"In India people have yet to come to terms with the intricacies of the sport. The stamina and physical endurance required to move at a speed of 350 kilometres per hour takes time to build. If you put an ordinary man at such speeds his neck will snap within no time." He is scared of driving in Delhi but he loves the feel of dodging big vehicles on Mumbai and Chennai roads, whenever he gets time. Just 26, he believes he still has three, four years to break the F1 barrier, which he explains in layman's terms as a shift from an Ambassador to a Maruti as far as speed is concerned.

Go, Narain go and shoo away the Schumachers from the podium.


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