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Narain plagued by engine trouble

Agnes Carlier | August 20, 2005 19:48 IST

India's ace driver Narain Karthikeyan was laid low by engine problems on the new Istanbul Park circuit and failed to complete the qualifying session of the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix on Saturday.

The 28-year-old was the victim of consecutive engine problems and experienced two engine changes in the morning sessions which prevented him from completing any lap.

Besides Karthikeyan, Jacques Villeneuve, the World champion in 1997, and Minardi driver Robert Doorbnoos, also did not complete the qualifying session.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher of Ferrari pulled into the pits across the tenth turn and decided not to set a time.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen claimed the pole position setting himself another chance to bridge the gap with Fernando Alonso of Renaults, who is leading on the points table after 13 races.

Raikkonen was quickest with 1 minute and 26.797 seconds to dominate the fleet of 16 drivers who finished successfully in the error-strewn qualifying session.

Karthikeyan, who suffered the gear box problem on Friday, experienced an engine failure because of a defective valve and the engine was replaced and the second engine also experienced a failure of a different type.

Karthikeyan's team mate Tiago Monteiro was 15th in 1:30.710 secs behind Takuma Sato of BAR-Honda. Monteiro was followed by Christijan Albers of Minardi.

"This time the engine blew and I felt something funny in the first installation lap. Then when I did the timed lap, I heard the engine go... I just could not believe this nor how unlucky I have been this race," Karthikeyan said.

"Starting yesterday with gearbox problems and then later two times consecutive engine problems in the morning. I have not been able to complete any running. It is really a pity, as I would have needed more laps to continue learning the track and doing more work on the car set-up.

"Our strategy had then to be adapted which explains why I only did an installation lap to ensure everything was ok and to save fuel and tyres. I hope I will have a better day tomorrow on race day," the Indian said.

Raikkonen will start his 81st GP on the first ever Turkey GP from pole position after setting the track alight with a stunning lap. The 25-year-old Finn has already scored six wins in his career and four times already in the entire 2005 season as the season comes to its 14th Grand Prix.

This pole is the 120th pole for team McLaren since they started racing.

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