Alexandre ImperatoriAlexandre Imperatori produced a gutsy comeback drive at Autopolis on Sunday to record the first points’ finish of his maiden Formula Nippon campaign.

The Swiss star, fresh off the back of another Porsche Carrera Cup Asia double victory the previous weekend, turned his attention to Japan’s powerful one-make single seater series with the intention of scoring points in just his second outing following a top ten finish on debut at Suzuka.

After knocking out a number of experienced drivers to reach the second stage of Saturday’s qualifying for the second consecutive round, a slight team miscalculation ultimately left the SGC by KCMG Toyota lining up 12th for Sunday’s 54-lap race, which began in damp but drying conditions. Like most of the field Imperatori started on wet tyres, maintaining position in the opening laps before swapping to slicks.

Having initially struggled with the car’s balance in wet conditions, a change of rubber proved the catalyst for Imperatori’s impressive fight back as he picked off those ahead one by one over the remaining 51 laps while also managing to preserve his tyres over the long stint. Seventh place, two points and leading rookie were his reward at the chequered flag.

Imperatori: “I came here this weekend determined to score points after a decent start to my Nippon career at Suzuka. While I was pleased to make it through to Q2 again, it’s true I was disappointed with 12th. Because of a timing error I didn’t have enough laps to complete the optimal tyre warming sequence which compromised my subsequent flying lap.

“I’m so pleased we turned that around on Sunday. With dry settings the first three laps on wet weather tyres proved very challenging. The grip levels just weren’t there and if I’m honest we probably pitted a lap later than we should. That cost us time but fortunately the car came alive and I was able to push hard straight away which made catching and passing those ahead a bit easier. On new tyres it’s tempting to use all the available grip straight away so I’m delighted that we managed to nurse the tyres for over 50 laps while still pushing hard. All in all it’s been an extremely satisfying weekend. The team performed brilliantly and to come away as top rookie with two points shows we’re heading in the right direction.”

Imperatori travels to Ordos, China on July 8-10 where he will attempt to maintain the perfect start to his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship. A week later he steps back into single seaters for round three of Formula Nippon at Fuji.