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Williams Racing driver Alex Albon tours Komatsu's Osaka plant

Facility workers line up to form the number 23
Komatsu employees form a human number #23 shape to commemorate Albon's Formula 1 number. Komatsu

Williams Racing driver Alex Albon visited the home of team Principal Partner Komatsu in Osaka ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Over 3,000 Komatsu employees greeted the 28-year-old upon his arrival at the site as the Japanese race moved to its earlier springtime slot on the calendar. He arrived aboard a Komatsu WA100 wheel loader.

Arriving at the Komatsu Training Centre, one of several stops on his tour, Albon met Senior Executive Officer Koichi Honda; Osaka Plant Manager Norihiko Tanigawa; GM of the General Affairs Department, Osaka Plant Toru Wakabayashi; and Committee Chairman, Komatsu Union Osaka Branch, Yasuaki Yoneda before revealing a Komatsu HB205 hybrid excavator branded in special Williams Racing colours – created for the occasion.

Albon visited the manufacturing plant, where he got the chance to swap his Williams Racing seat for that of a Komatsu excavator and operate the machine via remote control.

An afternoon tour of ‘Plant 1' allowed Komatsu staff to meet Albon, lining a path through the plant to cheer on the driver and his team for the race in Suzuka. An archway of Komatsu excavators created an entrance, and Komatsu employees formed a human number #23 shape to commemorate Albon's Formula 1 number.

The day ended with 140 Komatsu employees taking part in a Q&A session. Komatsu says that the visit provided an ideal start to Albon's Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

"It has been a special day for me visiting Komatsu's plant in Osaka, seeing the impressive facility up close, along with its 3,000 staff," said Albon. "I was given a unique welcome with lines of Komatsu staff waving their flags as I arrived in the passenger seat of the Komatsu hybrid excavator – an amazing experience. There are lots of parallels between the Komatsu plant and our own Williams Racing factory in the U.K., with technology and innovation and a team of passionate individuals all creating value together. It was a pleasure to see and speak to so many of the employees and also to get the chance to drive an excavator via remote control."

The Osaka plant is one of Komatsu's twelve manufacturing plants in Japan and covers a vast 545,000 square metres across its entire site. It manufactures medium-sized and large hydraulic excavators, large bulldozers, recycling equipment, and final drive.

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