Alexandre Imperatori : "The challenge of being on the edge everywhere is exciting"
Driving on the streets of Macau is always a perilous exercise and there, more than anywhere else, you are never sure of anything. However, the place delights all the drivers who race there, regardless of the category. For Alexandre Imperatori, Macau is a bit like his own garden, as he already has nine participations in three different disciplines: Formula Renault, Formula 3 and GT.
Last weekend, the Swiss driver drove the Porsche 911 GT3 R entered by TORO Racing with the support of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific. Fifth in the qualifying race, Alexandre Imperatori climbed onto the last step of the podium in the main race. But what is it that makes these drivers want to drive in a place as special as Macau? The most Chinese of the Swiss driver spoke with us us on this experience far from European standards.
Macau is a circuit that remains atypical...
The event is magical and the circuit is fantastic. Macau also has a glamorous side, reinforced this year by the return of non-Asian drivers.
What do you remember about your meeting?
Overall, it was a positive weekend. The first free practice showed that we were in the game and then we finished second in Q1. Unfortunately, a small problem with a loss of power meant that we were unable to get into Q2, but we knew that the car was good. The problem in Macau is overtaking, which is difficult. The start of the qualifying race was chaotic in the field. I got a good start, there was a little touch with Marciello but nothing too serious. The Lamborghini started slightly earlier, then the red flag came. At the restart, I was stuck behind the Lamborghini who was less slower. It's a pity because there was a good chance to win. In the end, I took 5th place without having been able to express my full potential.
As for the main race, I was clearly aiming for the podium. Unfortunately, the number of laps was reduced in order to respect the timing of the meeting. At the front we all had the same rhythm. In Macau, it's a bit like a casino. Do you have to throw yourself in to overtake? I secured the podium, which was the objective. This year, the meeting was more valuable because of the return of the European drivers.
Macau is mentally tough?
It was my ninth participation in the event, my sixth in GT after Formula Renault and Formula 3 on two occasions. In GT, there is no question of having as much aspiration as in single-seaters. You know that you have to throw yourself into it and the best chance of overtaking is in the first lap before Lisboa. You also have to rely on the facts of the race. In terms of intensity, it's all the time, you don't breathe much during a lap. It's a bit like on the Nordschleife, even if the length of the track is not comparable. In 2010, I was racing in F3 and I had put on a heart rate belt which was over 160 beats per minute. In the peloton, it's much more. That's also why we like this race. The challenge of being on the edge everywhere is exciting. Macau is one of my favourite tracks because it is a place where the driver can make the difference.
Do you know your 2023 programme?
There are some discussions in the pipeline. After Daytona 2022, I was supposed to go back to China to come back to Europe for the Nürburgring Endurance Series. Everything was cancelled and I stayed in Europe for a while. I didn't think I would be able to return to China until October. Finally, a plane chartered by the German Chamber of Commerce was able to leave three days later. It was a case of take it or leave it. It was not an easy decision, but I put the Nürburgring programme on hold. I arrived in the middle of a period of lockdown. The country is slowly opening up again. I'm looking forward to competing on the international stage again.