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Narain, the speed devil

At 29, I am as fit as any other racer. I still have a few more years to go ahead of me, Karthikeyan tells S Kannan.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2006 16:44 IST
S Kannan

When you are in the Formula One business, it’s hard to get a break. Ask our own speed king Narain Karthikeyan, and he tells you it’s a huge relief to be back home for a break.

Good to be home: After weeks of inhaling fumes at the track as a test driver for Williams, Narain is back — with wife Pavarana, parents and friends in Coimbatore. “Of course, being in India also means fulfiling certain obligations for my sponsors, but it’s mostly about relaxing.”

Sporty pals: For a man who is seen as an introvert, getting along with other sportstars has been easy. Be it “pal” Sachin Tendulkar, Leander Paes, or Chilly Rathore, Narain stays in touch with them. He also keeps track of Sa nia Mirza’s performances.

Recently, Narain met India’s latest sporting star Mahendra Singh Dhoni (both have been signed to endorse Bharat Petroleum). “I shot an ad with Dhoni, and I know he is a happening cricketer,” says Narain.

Off track: Narain prefers not to speed when he’s not racing. “I have enough of speed in the circuit. I drive my new Tata Safari in the Coimbatore at times, but during long drives I prefer the passenger seat,” he says.

Early start: Even when he was in teens, Narain’s passion for cars saw dad GR Karthikeyan, a former National rally champion, encourage him. “I went to the Elf Winfield Racing School in France,” says Narain. From there, it has been graduating to one category after the other. “Getting into F1 was always my ambition. I knew despite all the cynicism I could do it,” says Narain.

Fitness matters: He works hard on fitness, and monitors his diet. “No junk food for me,” he declares. On working out, he adds: “When you are in a sport like this, your neck muscles and back are always under stress. There’s no running away from hard training.” Even though he is not racing in the F1 circuit this year, he has to be ready. “I will know about my next testing schedule soon, even though I did not go to Imola for the Spanish Grand Prix.”

Hope for the best: If people doubt Narain’s capabilities and say he is over the hill, there’s no anger. “At 29, I am as fit as the others. I have a few more years to go,” he says.

On his better half: Life is good — especially on the home front. “Parvana has brought me luck,” he says of his wife. His ideal woman? “It has to be my wife. We have a lot in common after all.”