IMPERATORI GRABS SECOND PLACE IN AUTOPOLIS Alexandre Imperatori topped his week-end in Autopolis, south Japan, with a 1st runner-up position as the Japanese F3 championship approaches its conclusion. The penultimate round of the Japanese F3 ...
IMPERATORI GRABS SECOND PLACE IN AUTOPOLIS
Alexandre Imperatori topped his week-end in Autopolis, south Japan, with a 1st runner-up position as the Japanese F3 championship approaches its conclusion.
The penultimate round of the Japanese F3 championship took place in Autopolis, near Fukuoka. The conditions were sunny and hot as is common in the japanese summer.
The week-end started off very well with Alexandre topping the time-sheets during friday morning practice and then going second fastest in the afternoon as the team evaluated the handling of the car on long runs in preparation for the race.
Alexandre: "It seems to go well so far. we spent much time working on race work as it is going to be long and we expect a lot of tyre degradation."
Autopolis is a very technical circuit featuring steep slopes but where it is also notoriously difficult to overtake. Therefore, qualifying is a crucial component for victory as the pole-sitter usually keeps his advantage until the final lap.
On saturday morning, the two qualifying sessions for round 13 and 14 were held in warmer conditions than friday's practice and following the first running of the week-end by the Formula Nippon cars. As the drivers took to the track, Alexandre quickly complained of oversteer as the track conditions had changed dramatically. As a result, the swiss driver couldn't do better than 4th place, 4 tenths away from pole position.
Back in the pits, necessary adjustments were made to the Dallara F307 by the KCMG crew and it proved fruitful as Alexandre could grab 3rd spot for the second qualifying but this time less than a tenth away from pole.
Alexandre: "This qualifying was extremely closely fought and its a shame the rear grip faded away in the last sector of the track in my fastest lap otherwise we could have nailed it. It will not be easy from third but with a good start we can still hope for a nice result."
The first race of the week-end, 14 laps long, started at 15.45 local time. A poor start combined with a first corner crash in the middle of the field meant Alexandre lost three positions off the line. He immediately overtook Kuroda on the run down the second corner just before the safety car was deployed to clear the track. At the restart, Imperatori jumped another position into 5th place and then shadowed Honda's Kobayashi to the finish.
Alexandre: "Today I made a mistake at the start, trying to be too perfect and it backfired at me. Then I gave everything I had in the early stages to catch up but ultimately I couldn't pass Kobayashi despite being quicker. Let's now focus on tomorrow's feature race."
Imperatori lined up third on the grid for sunday's 20 laps race. This time, the young swiss took off well and gained a position to run into 2nd place in the first corner. Honda's Yamamoto was leading the race and in the first couple laps, Alexandre could push him, hoping for a mistake. However, the tyres soon started to wear off and rear instability affected the car. No willing to risk everything to push Yamamoto to a mistake, Alexandre controlled his pace and took his second place to the finish line. Imperaratori gained more ground to Sato in the championship as the pair rev up for a fight for second place in the championship.
Alexandre: "This time I had a good start and we could fight at the top again. Tyre degradation was quick massive and it became very easy to spin off by pushing 100%, even more so as the track is really dirty and seldom used. So I went for the points and settled for second. Ww must fight hard to beat Sato in the final round at Sugo but we know it's possible!"
Next race: Sugo 27.09.2009