WEEK END TO FORGET IN SUZUKA Despite an excellent start to the week end in Suzuka for round 3 of the japanese F3 championship, Alexandre will quickly put this week end behind him after unlucky eventful races. Flying back from a great week ...
WEEK END TO FORGET IN SUZUKA
Despite an excellent start to the week end in Suzuka for round 3 of the japanese F3 championship, Alexandre will quickly put this week end behind him after unlucky eventful races.
Flying back from a great week in A1GP at the final event in Brands Hatch, Alexandre Imperatori was looking positively to the race in Suzuka. The young driver from PTRS arrived the mythic japanese circuit leading his National Class championship.
In Friday's practice, young Imperatori had two 40 minutes sessions to learn the track in good dry conditions and managed to come just above 3 tenths close to the best time lapped by Yamauchi.
But things were disturbed as the rain poured heavily on Suzuka on saturday, setting the scene for a tricky qualifying session.
Alexandre kept his wits despite the change of conditions and took two second places for the races while he steadily learnt the track in the wet. "With our limited experience in Suzuka, taking two front row starting positions is positive and everything can happen in the race" Alexandre said.
Indeed, everything was just about to happen in the first race. Rain kept dropping even more heavily if that was possible. But the problem wouldn't come from the weather: at the start a mechanical glitch in the gearbox put the car in neutral while the dashboard read 1st gear : "When I released the clutch to start, the car didn't move and I thought the clutch had a problem. By the time I managed to start the car, everybody was gone".
Fortunately, Alexandre proved his speed has he set the fastest lap in the race in a strong fashion. "We have found the mechanical problem and taken the steps to correct it so hopefully it won't happen again. I will do my best to put it straight tomorrow."
But things just wouldn't go his way. While Alexandre had a perfect start that propelled him in the lead, he had to defend his position on many occasion. "We had a setup that would privilege the end of the 17 laps race so it was more difficult at the beginning". Under attack from team mate Zahir Ali at the famous chicane corner, Alexandre stayed side by side in order to repass in the left hander. Both cars exited side by side but extremely close and both oversteering, eventually making contact. Unharmed by the contact, Alex kept going showing a top pace but soon had to pit in as the stewards decided to hand a penalty to the PTRS driver. "I feel the decision by the stewards is a bit harsh as it was really ultimately a race incident, especially a 60 second stop and go". To avoid overheating, the team asked Alexandre to stop the engine, which unfortunately never restarted as the starter was overheated. This was the final bit of bad luck in a week end to forget.
Alexandre Imperatori: "We had enough problems this week end to last for the whole season but I will fight back with all I have in Motegi and show that we are not letting ourselves down. Suzuka is a great track nonetheless and we should focus on the positive things: we were fastest in race 1 and in the pace of the winner in race 2. And we now know that we are competitive both in dry and wet conditions so everything is here, we just have to build on that."
The next race will take place in 2 weeks time at Motegi circuit. Unlike Suzuka, Alexandre knows the track there and it should make things definitely easier. Alexandre will also be intent to show he can fight back after a difficult week end.