Motorsport: Thompson eyes top honours after unlocking full potential
Japanese F3 racer Gary Thompson is expecting to make another leap forward at Okayama this weekend following his maiden podium visit at Motegi four weeks ago.
Further strong testing form in the interim has boosted the 18-year-old's confidence ahead of this weekend's double-header and he expects to build on his second-place finish in the last round.
That result came on the back of strong race form but qualifying remains a problem for the reigning Formula BMW Asia Rookie Cup Champion in his maiden F3 season.
However, his Achievement by KCMG squad believe they have unlocked further potential from his Cebu Pacific Dallara chassis after discovering a hidden problem in testing that Thompson believes has been making it difficult to properly dial in the settings.
Now, though, the Dunlop Driver of the Month for April believes that he can consistently challenge for top-three placings right from the start of qualifying and onwards.
"It's hard to make predictions because its difficult to know exactly where we'll be in Okayama compared with everybody else, but certainly were looking for a big step forward in terms of our overall pace," said Thompson.
"We've been a bit frustrated with our ultimate speed so far this season, even though our results have been quite good, but the team has worked really hard over the past few weeks and I'm aiming to reward them with a strong performance at the weekend."
Thompson also carries prior track knowledge into this weekend, having raced a Formula BMW in Okayama last year.
"So far in 2010 I've had to learn each circuit in practice, while a lot of the other drivers on the grid have had prior circuit knowledge," he explained. "However, I've been to Okayama before in Formula BMW, in fact, I had a pretty strong weekend there last year, which saw me finish on the podium.
"That definitely helps but we'll still have to work hard in the practice sessions on Friday to make sure we have the optimum set-up, bearing in mind all the changes we've made.
"I quite like it and the layout is good. There are places where you can overtake, which should make it good for racing. The key thing for us is the weather. It hasn't been great for the last few days and I'm hoping it's dry in practice so we can get through our work load without any delays."
Meanwhile, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle take a break from their International Rally Challenge commitments to put further mileage on Citroen's exciting new DS3R3 machine at the Mont Blanc Rally this weekend.
The car debuted in the hands of Bryan Bouffier at the Ulster rally two weeks ago.