Imperatori impresses in Japanese F3 opener Alexandre Imperatori made a strong start to his 2010 Japanese F3 campaign at Suzuka last weekend after scoring a podium finish for the Toda Racing team in what was the partnership's first foray into the...
Imperatori impresses in Japanese F3 opener
Alexandre Imperatori made a strong start to his 2010 Japanese F3 campaign at Suzuka last weekend after scoring a podium finish for the Toda Racing team in what was the partnership's first foray into the premier C-Class.
Neither the team or Swiss had any prior experience of running their updated engine and chassis around what is considered amongst the most technical circuits in world motorsport. And with the majority of Friday's two practice sessions blighted by wet conditions, their task wasn't made any easier.
As anticipated, Saturday's pair of 15-minute qualifying sessions to determine the order for the weekend's two races took place under clear skies, leaving the team and Imperatori guessing as to which way they should go on set-up. Despite their inexperience, both parties performed exceptionally to qualify third for races one and two.
That afternoon's first race was also a dry affair with Imperatori making a solid getaway in his Dallara-Honda to maintain third position throughout the race against the established Toyota-powered runners.
Excessive wheelspin at the start of race two on Sunday saw Imperatori drop to fourth by the first corner. Having made further set-up changes overnight, he was now able to push much harder as he jockeyed to retake the position. The pair's ensuing battle however allowed Yuhi Sekiguchi to close in and on lap six he touched Imperatori's rear wheel, sending him off at Spoon Curve.
Having rejoined fifth and homed back in on the ThreeBond Racing driver, Imperatori set about re-taking the position. With just two laps to go he was right with the Japanese driver. However, a mistake while running in his slipstream saw the back-end snap sideways, ending his hopes, although he was still classified.
Imperatori: "Overall, I think we have a reasonable base to start the season with and I'm obviously delighted to have scored a podium on my C-Class debut. There's also still room to improve on the set-up. Friday's wet conditions didn't help so we went into qualifying without really knowing where we were with the car. We just had to go with what the team had, so there's more to come. The test at Okayama between now and Motegi should help with finding a better balance in the dry.
"There's also a big difference between the two classes with the more modern cars having better handling and grip. They're actually quite heavy and I wasn't expecting it to be such a step. But the grip was excellent and we were lapping two seconds faster than last season so it was a big improvement."
His podium from the opening race sees Imperatori lie fourth in the standings ahead of round two at Motegi next month (May 22/23).
-source: alexandre imperatori