Η Αlpine, 35 χρόνια μετά τη νίκη των Jean-Pierre Jaussaud και Didier Pironi στο Sarthe classic με ένα Renault Alpine A442B, επιστρέφει στον 24-ωρο αγώνα του Le Mans με το Α450. Το αγωνιστικό θα έχει το N°36 και οδηγοί του θα είναι οι Tristan Gommendy, Nelson Panciatici και Pierre Ragues, με τον Paul-Loup Chatin να αναλαμβάνει ρόλο αναπληρωματικού.
Ο φετινός αγώνα του Le Mans θα διεξαχθεί στις 22-23 του Ιούνη με το αγωνιστικό να φορά έναν V8 5,0-λίτρων κινητήρα της Nissan απόδοσης 500 ίππων. Ζυγίζει 900 κιλά, έχει τελική ταχύτητα 330 χλμ/ώρα με το κινητήρα να συνδυάζεται με ένα 6-τάχυτο σειριακό κιβώτιο X-Trac. Διαθέτει κεντρικό πτερύγιο, μεγάλη πίσω αεροτομή, carbon splitter μπροστά και είναι βαμμένο σε μπλε και πορτοκαλί χρώμα.
Alpine’s return to Le Mans
- On June 22-23, the Alpine brand will celebrate its return to the Le Mans 24 Hours, 35 years after Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi steered their Renault Alpine A442B to victory in the La Sarthe classic.
- Signatech Alpine will run the N°36 Alpine A450 that will be crewed by Tristan Gommendy, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues.
- Having successfully passed all of the administrative and technical checks, Signatech Alpine will take to the track on Wednesday and Thursday for free practice and qualifying. The 90th anniversary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours will start at 3:00pm on Saturday, June 22.
- The N°36 Alpine A450 set the second-fastest time in the LMP2 class at the official pre-race Test Day on June 9.
Since June 11, 1978 – the date that Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pi-roni drove their Renault Alpine A442B to glory – Alpine has never been back to the Le Mans 24 Hours…until now.
Launched last year by Renault Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares, the first phase of Alpine’s revival will take the form of a participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours with an Alpine A450 run by Signatech Alpine.
Signatech Alpine Team Principal Philippe Sinault is well aware of the enthusiasm and fervour surrounding this famous return: “The general public and the sport’s fans are eager to share this weekend with us. The objective was to re-position the brand at the heart of people’s consciousness. That mission has already been accomplished. Now, it’s up to us to achieve a good result in the Le Mans 24 Hours to demonstrate that we are on the right path.”
“We still have some details to confirm during the practice and qualifying sessions on Wednesday and Thursday,” he goes on. “Those two days will also enable our drivers to benefit from some valuable track time, but we know that the final outcome will not be determined in practice… The start of the race will be a kind of culmination for this magnificent project – and at the same time, the start of a whole new chapter in the brand’s history. Our team bears a tremendous responsibility. There are 22 cars entered in the LMP2 class, and around two-thirds of them are capable of winning, which means the pace of the race will be incredibly high. It will be a frenetic, 24-hour sprint! With just one car, our only strategy is to feature at the sharp end throughout and do our talking on the track.”
After posting the second-quickest LMP2 lap time at the Test Day on June 9, Nelson Panciatici is unable to conceal his excitement: “I can’t wait for it to get going! For the last month, we have been dedicated entirely to preparations for Le Mans, and now I just really want it to start! We’ll try to attain a good position in qualifying – even if that is not vital for an endurance event like this – and then the race will be a case of driving flat-out from start-to-finish like in a grand prix. We’ll need to set off at a strong pace if we want to be in the fight.”
“There is a great deal at stake here,” adds Tristan Gommendy. “It’s a very significant moment not only for us but also for all the spectators who are keen to witness the return of such a great French manufacturer as Alpine. We need to be as professional as possible and to remain cool, calm, con-fident and humble. During the race, it will be important to not make any mistakes and then just hope that Lady Luck is smiling down upon us. There are a lot of factors that will come into play. Not for nothing is the Le Mans 24 Hours renowned as one of the toughest races in the world.”
Pierre Ragues, the most experienced of Signatech Alpine’s trio of drivers with six Le Mans starts already under his belt, is similarly champing at the bit: “Let’s get this week underway! Testing has been positive and we feel ready for the challenge that lies ahead. We have done a lot of work with the tyres running on full tanks of fuel, and the Alpine A450 is easy to drive in both dry and wet conditions. From experience, I am well aware that there will be no respite from the second the race gets underway. We will need to be right in the mix throughout the first two-thirds of the race, and then we will see where we stand come Sunday morning – but if we want to stand out in the LMP2 class, I think we’re going to have to take some risks...”