IMPERATORI LEADS A1GP ROOKIE PRACTICE IN TAUPO The young swiss driver made it to the top of the sheets in the first practice session of A1GP in Taupo on his first visit to the circuit. Taupo, New Zealand, welcomes the fourth round of the ...
IMPERATORI LEADS A1GP ROOKIE PRACTICE IN TAUPO
The young swiss driver made it to the top of the sheets in the first practice session of A1GP in Taupo on his first visit to the circuit.
Taupo, New Zealand, welcomes the fourth round of the 2008/2009 A1GP season this week-end. Located on the north island of the country, this 3.3 km circuit is a challenge for the drivers with its constant turns and offers no rest.
A1 Team Switzerland is decided to come to the front this weekend to concretize all the potential seen in so far. Once again, Alexandre and Neel Jani are partnering at the wheel of the swiss machine under supervision of race engineer James Robbinson.
In the build up to the week-end, Alexandre was invited to take part in some activities to discover more about the host nation. First he was introduced to Maoris, the local aborigines, who performed and taught the drivers the "Haka", their ritual made famous by the All-Blacks on the rugby stadiums.
Then the drivers went on to ride jet boats on the river that leads to the Huka Falls, a renown scenic spot in New Zealand.
Alexandre Imperatori: "It was a wonderful experience. Both activities were very entertaining and bore a very essential cultural aspect. While strange at first, it was nice and special to watch firsthand how the Maori warriors prepared for combat. Hopefully we can show the same strength on track this week-end! "
On friday morning, the rookie practice kicked off at 10:45 am under hot conditions with a striking sun. Not having been able to run in Sepang because of gearbox problems, it had been effectively almost 4 months since Alexandre last drove and while he didn't know the track he had some experience of the car.
The practice is made of two 25- minutes sessions. Both were relatively eventful with quite a few red and yellow flags: "It was not ideal to learn the track but conditions were the same for everyone out there. Because the track was so dirty and tricky it was pretty easy to misjudge a corner and make a mistake".
However, Alexandre's run were trouble free and at the halfway point he was in third position. The objective was to determine a good base setup for Neel for the remainder of the week end so Alex and his engineer tried different solutions. By the end of the second sessions, with under 8 minutes left, everything was put together to make a proper laptime. In the first lap, the swiss car took second place before hitting the top spot on the next lap, 3 tenth clear of second place.
This time would not be improved and Switzerland ended the session as the leader. A first for Alexandre after many solid performances at the wheel of the swiss charger.
Alexandre: "It definitely feels good to see P1 on the board. It rewards the hard work the team and I have put in: they made a fantastic job. Surely it wasn't yet the perfect lap but it is good to feel that I keep improving myself and put some more experience under my belt. The important thing was to collect good data for Neel and bring the car back in one piece. Hopefully the rest of the week end will continue in a similar fashion!"
Alexandre couldn't be more right as Jani placed the swiss car on first place again in the afternoon.