IMPERATORI IS VICE-CHAMPION Imperatori rounded up the 2008 Japanese F3 National class season with a podium to become the vice cham- pion. A look at the last race of the year in Sugo. The Japan F3 finale was set to be at Sugo, a few hours north...
IMPERATORI IS VICE-CHAMPION
Imperatori rounded up the 2008 Japanese F3 National class season with a podium to become the vice cham- pion. A look at the last race of the year in Sugo.
The Japan F3 finale was set to be at Sugo, a few hours north of Tokyo: the track featured important level changes, a very twisty first sector and very high speed second part so that it would prove quite a challenge for the drivers.
On thursday, Alexandre concentrated on learning this new track and was experiencing difficulties with the handling of the car and focused on solving these issues.
"We are lacking general grip and the circuit is very particular so we need to find the right adjustments that will suit the car best. We are not quite there yet so we need to keep working hard in tomorrow's practices" Alexandre said on thursday evening.
After further improvements on friday, Alexandre felt more confident for the rest of the week end: on new tyres he could manage to set the second fastest time and knew were to improve on the last couple tenths.
For saturday's qualifying, Alexandre had to secure two good lap times for each of the last two round's grids. On his first set of tyres, he set a good time of 1.17.2 that put him in second place on the timing boards. With his second set, he managed his very first lap in 1.17.1 and was on a flyer the next lap when the session was red-flagged. Right before the redflag, team-mate Ali had had time to put in his lap (1.17.08) that pushed back Alex in 3rd place for race 2 while Alexandre was 2nd for the first race's start. The session was not to be restarted.
At the start of race 1, the young swiss again did one of his now customary great starts to take the lead from second and was leading when an unfortunate mistake allowed the three competitors behind him to pass: "I went a bit wide on a curb as I was pushing hard to make a gap but the curb pulled me on the grass and I had to lift while the others passed me down the straight." Alexandre bemoaned afterwards.
Indeed, Sugo is a track that provide very little overtaking opportunities and Alexandre crossed the finish line in 4th.
On sunday, the weather conditions turned rainy and nobody knew what to expect. Imperatori went from 3rd to second at the start and was putting pressure on the leader for the first 8 laps and the two were clearing from the rest of the field. But as the conditions worsened, the other drivers behind managed to plug the gap and Alexandre fell back to 4th but quickly reclaimed 3rd place by overtaking the early leader of the race. In the later stages of the 25 laps race, Alexandre posted fast laps to close-in on 2nd-placed Matsushita but lacked a few laps to find a way past. Still Alexandre was crowned vice-champion with a last podium of a successful season.
Alexandre Imperatori: "The season was really good, I feel we progressed well and I learned much. Becoming vice-champion with a last podium was important even though I would have preferred to win. I wish to congratulate and thank my whole team for this successful year!"
"Becoming vice champion of such a strong championship means a lot but I look forward to more racing here and stepping on the top step in the near future."
After setting his print in the japanese racing world, Alexandre now hopes to continue his successful streak in the far-east in 2009. Stay tuned for more informations.