Imperatori scoops fine double podium at Motegi Alexandre Imperatori continued his impressive start to the Japanese Formula 3 campaign with a pair of podium finishes in rounds three and four at Twin Ring Motegi. The Swiss youngster was on the...
Imperatori scoops fine double podium at Motegi
Alexandre Imperatori continued his impressive start to the Japanese Formula 3 campaign with a pair of podium finishes in rounds three and four at Twin Ring Motegi.
The Swiss youngster was on the pace all weekend and carried his Friday free practice form into Saturday morning's two 15-minute qualifying sessions. Indeed, he was on the cusp of claiming his first pole position of the season until championship rival Yuji Kunimoto grabbed the top spot on his final flying lap by a mere 0.009sec.
Imperatori was also fast enough in the second session to repeat his front-row starting position for race two despite a competitor compromising his final timed effort when they span directly ahead, dirtying the track.
The weekend's opening race kicked off on Saturday afternoon. Following such a strong showing in qualifying, the Toda Racing team's hopes were high of fighting with TOMS for victory. Such expectations were dashed almost immediately however after Imperatori's handbrake broke on the start line, forcing him to release the car's clutch after the lights had gone out.
The excessive wheelspin that followed dropped the 23-year-old down to fourth and although he was able to retake third on the opening lap, it would be as far forward as he got.
A raft of set-up changes for Sunday's second race, as well as a new handbrake, offered the team renewed optimism.
This time there were no problems at the start, Imperatori making a clean getaway before both he and Kunimoto ahead opened up a comfortable advantage back to third.
Initially, the Japanese was able to slightly creep away before Imperatori turned in a succession of quick laps to haul himself back into contention. Alas, time ran out before he was able to make his move but was still happy to have come away from Motegi as a major championship contender.
Imperatori: "All in all it's been a very positive weekend. We've made a lot of progress since the opening round at Suzuka in understanding the car which was evident in our practice, qualifying and race pace. I was so close to getting pole for the first race and was pleased with second position in qualifying two because of the guy going off ahead. I had to lift quite a bit because I couldn't see the car through the tyre smoke and dirt which certainly compromised my lap.
"Everything is looking good for the rest of the season. We're only two points behind Koki Saga so the plan in Fuji is to overtake him and close the gap to Kunimoto. It would be great to win there, especially as it's in Toyota's backyard and I'm the only one running a Honda engine. I notched up two pole positions there last season and I'm confident we'll have the pace, but it won't be easy."
Imperatori will resume his Japanese F3 title battle at the Fuji International Speedway on June 12/13.