JAPAN F3 SEASON OPENS IN FUJI Alexandre Imperatori has started his second F3 season in the far east last week-end after signing a deal with the ACHIEVEMENT BY KCMG outfit. Imperatori had signed for a second season in Japan F3 National...
JAPAN F3 SEASON OPENS IN FUJI
Alexandre Imperatori has started his second F3 season in the far east last week-end after signing a deal with the ACHIEVEMENT BY KCMG outfit.
Imperatori had signed for a second season in Japan F3 National class with the ACHIEVEMENT BY KCMG racing team after testing in the winter. The swiss has set his sight on the title this year in what is proving a very strong championship. Indeed with Honda and Nissa factory fielding two drivers each in the National class instead of the Championship class and with ex-GP2 racer and Toyota driver Sekiguchi as well as ex- RedBull driver Kuroda, the level is at its best.
"I always relish a challenge and I hope this will help more people see our performance this year. And you know, there is no glory to succeed without a fight!" declared Alexandre, looking upon the coming season.
The season opener is traditionally held at Fuji Speedway, famous for its tricky 3rd sector. Practice was held on friday with 2 sessions of one hour, followed by two qualifying sessions of 15 minutes each on saturday morning. Each of these qualifying session determines the grid for Race 1 and Race 2 respectively. The short race (15 laps) is held on saturday afternoon while the longer one (21 laps) is held on sunday.
During friday practice, various setup work was carried out to find a compromise between the fast second sector and the hilly and twisty third sector. At the end of the day, the swiss driver was not yet satisfied with the last sector and examined options for qualifying with his engineer Uchima.
In Qualifying 1, Alexandre was still trying options to solve his sector 2 problems and by the end of the session he felt an improvement was made. He secured 4th place on the grid but knew that with new tyres the improvements would show in the second qualifying. Indeed, he improved by a massive 9 tenths of a second to hold pole position until the last lap when a last grasp effort from Sekiguchi pushed Alex down to second.
Alexandre: "Qualifying was good, we have identified and solved the remaining issues we had and we were quick so we can be confident for the races"
Clouds were looming in the sky at the start of race 1 but everyone decided to stay on slick tyres despite a light drizzle. When the lights went off, Alexandre had too much wheelspin and as slow off the line, dropping to 6th place. However, the driver immediately felt he had a better pace and methodically picked up all his opponent one by one until he was leading the race by lap 10. Followed a great on-rack battle with second placed and pole starter Sekiguchi. With two laps to go and the swiss still leading Sekiguchi tried a move on the outside of turn one and turned in on the KCMG car of Alexandre. The collision was unavoidable and with the rain now falling more heavily, Alexandre's car went into a spin. By the time he recovered he was down in 7th place.
"It's a real shame because the race was one of the best I ever drove, very solid and quick and to miss the victory so narrowly is not a nice feeling." was Alexandre's reaction after the race.
In race 2, Alexandre wanted to take revenge but it was soon to be forgotten as a glitch with the clutch stole the engine at the start leaving Alex once again with an uphill battle. Imperatori was quickly catching ground with the podium-placed cars when he picked up debris on the front left tyres causing vibrations for a few laps. With this, Alexandre had to settle for a 4th place finish and safeguard some points for the championship.
Next race: Okayama 26.04.2008