Alesi “not losing hope” amid tough season in Japan
Giuliano Alesi insists he is “not losing hope” amid a trying double SUPER GT and Super Formula campaign in Japan with flagship Toyota team TOM’S.
Ex-Formula 2 racer Alesi stepped up to a prized GT500 seat in the #36 TOM’S GR Supra alongside reigning champion Tsuboi, while also stepping up to Super Formula full-time as a replacement for the now-retired Kazuki Nakajima.
However, Alesi has only finished inside the points once so far in six Super Formula races, finishing eighth in the second round of the season at Fuji Speedway.
In SUPER GT he has struggled to match the pace of teammate Tsuboi, although the pair did at least get a podium finish in May’s second round at Fuji that was cut short by Nissan driver Mitsunori Takaboshi’s huge crash, scoring half-points.
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While admitting that his second campaign in Japan so far hasn’t lived up to expectations, Alesi believes that a turnaround in form remains within reach.
“It hasn’t been great in terms of results, I would have wanted more and so would the team,” Alesi told Motorsport.com ahead of this weekend’s fourth round of the SUPER GT season at Fuji.
“It’s all about just figuring out where we can find some laptime and especially more consistency. I’m not losing hope, I remain confident that I have the ability to deliver the results.
“TOM’S has always been about winning in the past, so I think we have the package; it’s just about optimising everything and putting everything together.
“There’s always been something wrong and that’s affected the results. We have to keep working and I’m sure we’ll get there.”
Alesi’s woes in Super Formula have been compounded by the strong form of his teammate Ritomo Miyata, who has scored 40 points with a string of consistent finishes compared to Alesi’s tally of three.
But the Frenchman said he was able to take encouragement from the most recent Super Formula race at Fuji last month, where he was running inside the points only for a gearbox problem during his pitstop to curtail his race.
“It was not perfect but it was a step forward and I was happy about that,” he reflected. “We have been trying to change a few things [on the set-up], but it’s better not to change too much because the behaviour of the car can change a lot.
“It’s a very sensitive car, so it’s just small steps we need to make. We just need to put everything together and then I think we’ll be there.”
Alesi picked up a drive-through penalty in the most recent SUPER GT race at Suzuka for overtaking under yellow flags, but feels he is steadily getting closer to teammate Tsuboi.
“I had trouble seeing the yellow flag to be honest,” he admitted. “I feel the penalty was a bit harsh, but obviously I apologised to the team, because regardless of whether you see it or not it’s the end result that counts.
“I feel like I’m missing something in qualifying still, which is a lot to do with the feeling on [new] tyres, but the race pace feels like it’s getting better and better.”
Alesi and Tsuboi head into this weekend’s Fuji SUPER GT race carrying 27kg of success ballast on their GR Supra, and the GT500 rookie feels that a maiden victory is achievable at Toyota's home venue.
“It’s about maximising what you have at the time,” said Alesi. “If we can do that here, we should be battling for the victory. It’s our duty as drivers to put that together.”
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