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Auto GP Brno: Narain Karthikeyan sets Brno first-practice pace

Narain Karthikeyan Super Nova Auto GP Brno 2013

Auto GP championship outsider Narain Karthikeyan produced a statement of intent as he set the pace in the opening free-practice session of the weekend at Brno.

The Indian was in command throughout the half-hour session and enjoyed an advantage of in excess of a second for lengthy periods.

His championship-leading Super Nova team-mate Vittorio Ghirelli came closest to Karthikeyan's 1m44.514s time.

Ghirelli's final lap came within 0.353s of the benchmark; the Super Nova pair clear of Zele Racing's returning driver, Tamas Pal Kiss.

Ghinzani driver Robert Visoiu made a promising start to the weekend with fourth spot, ahead of Zele's series debutant, GP2 race winner Josef Kral.

Andrea Roda, who continues to search for his maiden Auto GP podium, completed the top six for Virtuosi Racing.

Ghirelli's closest threat in the title fight Kimiya Sato suffered a troubled practice session owing to exhaust problems, and could only manage 13th spot.

Sato is 11 points behind Ghirelli in the championship with 48 up for grabs at this weekend's finale.

Sergio Campana - the third title protagonist - is 17 behind Ghirelli, and had a subdued session to end up 10th. Karthikeyan is the final championship contender, 21 points off the series lead.

Pos  Driver               Team             Time       Gap
 1.  Narain Karthikeyan   Super Nova       1m44.514s
 2.  Vittorio Ghirelli    Super Nova       1m44.867s  +0.353s
 3.  Tamas Pal Kiss       Zele             1m45.330s  +0.816s 
 4.  Robert Visoiu        Ghinzani         1m45.953s  +1.439s
 5.  Josef Kral           Zele             1m46.208s  +1.694s
 6.  Andrea Roda          Virtuosi         1m46.268s  +1.754s
 7.  Daniel de Jong       Manor MP         1m46.745s  +2.231s
 8.  Yoshitaka Kuroda     Euronova         1m46.745s  +2.231s
 9.  Kevin Giovesi        Ghinzani         1m46.750s  +2.236s
10.  Sergio Campana       Ibiza            1m46.799s  +2.285s
11.  Roberto La Rocca     Comtec/Virtuosi  1m47.141s  +2.627s
12.  Max Snegirev         Virtuosi         1m47.422s  +2.908s
13.  Kimiya Sato          Euronova         1m47.588s  +3.074s
14.  Meindert van Buuren  Manor MP         1m47.707s  +3.193s
15.  Michela Cerruti      MLR 71           1m49.054s  +4.540s
16.  Francesco Dracone    Ibiza            1m50.288s  +5.774s
17.  Michele La Rosa      MLR 71           1m50.701s  +6.187s
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Karthikeyan stays on top at Brno