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Narain's chariot of fire sparks to life

London, Feb. 9: Narain Karthikeyan, India's Formula One find, 'did 23 laps of the grand prix circuit at Silverstone today', said a spokesperson for Jordan based in Northamptonshire.

He intends to carry on with the testing of Jordan's new Toyota EJ15 racing car tomorrow and on Friday.

'At the moment we are not timing the laps,' the spokesperson said. 'He is just testing the car systems. We hope weather conditions will be good.'

The Jordan Toyota EJ15 is a further development of the EJ14 which was tested last year.

As he squeezed into his racing machine, 28-year-old Narain had to be fitted out properly down to 'fireproof underpants'. He has to wear 'fireproof overalls, fireproof helmet, fireproof gloves and balaclava' as required by racing regulations.

At present, the attempt is to test man and machine and make sure they suit each other.

'The Formula One car is a very complicated piece of machinery,' the spokesperson said.

'There are hundreds and hundreds of adjustments that need to be made, which are individual to the particular circuit and the driver.'

She said: 'Narain has driven Formula One before, for Jaguar and for Jordan, in 2001. He said, 'This is quicker and more powerful than anything I have driven before. The brakes are amazingly powerful, and can stop the car very suddenly'.'

Narain's car was a mass of wires which fed information into computers, where the data was being followed and analysed by engineers. Narain must have realised today, if he hadn't before, that the driver is only the front figure in a massive team operation.

'The idea is to get as many miles as possible before the grand prix in Melbourne, Malaysia and Bahrain,' the spokesperson said.

Narain can expect to make his debut in Melbourne on March 6 when his progress will be followed by hundreds of millions of racing enthusiasts.

Narain and Jordan's other new signing, Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro, are currently sharing a car but eventually they will have their own machines adjusted to their requirements. 'Narain may want a certain ride height.'

Jordan F1 has been pleasantly surprised by the degree of interest the recruitment of Narain has generated, both from the Indian and British media. Today, he was being interviewed by UK newspapers and television.

Narain himself has been showing Indian press cuttings to his new employers. 'There are so many page one stories,' the spokesperson said.

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