What to expect from Alpine in the WEC main class

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has fully embraced the new rules of Hypercar, which will finally come to an end in the 2021 FIA World Sustainability Championship season.

Toyota and Glickenhaus have signed on to be part of the new WEC and Le Mans 24 Hour class from the very beginning, but we’ll have to wait until 2022 for Peugeot to offer some factory competition for Toyota. And another year before Ferrari, Audi and Porsche join the party – the latter two through the cheapest LMDh formula.

That means that in 2021, Toyota ‘s main competitor appears to be a brand that has been making a big splash in the world of motorsports over the past six months, but one who is still sitting on the fence as to whether he should build Hypercar himself.

In conjunction with the refurbishment of the Renault F1 Team, the Renault Group Alpine brand has also increased its presence in sports racing. Alpine has been recycling Oreca LMP2 cars since 2015, when it established a partnership with the Signatech and DC Racing apparel.

The connection with Signatech led to two LMP2 competitions and three Le Mans victories in 2016 and 2018, 2019, confirming the French team’s credentials as a suitable partner for Alpine to step up to the top class.

But instead of promising an ACO hypercar formula from the outset, Alpine first tests the waters with a grandflected LMP1 Rebellion R-13 chassis from Oreca, leaving it as the one about end of LMP1.

Accompanying Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao, who were in the car for Signatech’s three and two Le Mans winners, will be re-enrolled Mathieu Vaxiviere as the A480-Gibson Alpine, which mirrors live colors deep blue of the brand. Formula 1 Car.

While the A480 does not share any DNA shortages with the Oreca 07 LMP2 car, Signatech has nevertheless hired a number of engineers to run the more complex LMP1 device, which will be controlled by Performance Balance to introduced by Toyota and Glickenhaus.

“The team is bigger now,” explains Signatech founder and team principal Philippe Sinault. “To operate this car we need more people. We hired three additional engineers, some mechanics and one more person in the mixed sector.”

Lapierre said he was pleased “the key players remain the same” at the team’s headquarters in Bourges. He said: “They were Alpine strengths when we won the competition and Le Mans 24 in the last few years.

“Of course, the team needed to get a little more to manage the BoP and all the new electronics we have inside the car. But I still felt at home when I returned. When I returned to Bourges, it was very easy for me to get back and reintegrate the family. “

Sinault explained that the team will not be doing any improvement work this year as they will be on the way back to match the slowest laptop times of the new Hypercars, and that the A480 will run the full season with last year’s low-rise Revolution aerokit.

“We can improve the car, but at the moment our main responsibility is to have a good knowledge of the new rules and to regulate the new electronic processes,” he said. “The car is already reliable. So we need to work on making good use of these new tools. “

It’s not yet clear whether 2021 will convince Alpine to properly enter the hypercar levels, but Sinault says that option is still being considered.

“We talk a lot with [Alpine CEO] Laurent Rossi and Alpine ‘s technical staff about the future, “he replied when asked about Alpine’ s future prospects.

“Certainly on the sustainability racing platform right now, a lot of things are moving. The topic is on the table but we have 2021 to do first.”

Good performance in 2021, therefore, will not harm the long-term expectations for Alpine in a world-class endurance racing class.

It is unclear whether Signatech will be able to take over Toyota’s capability, and there is no guarantee that the ACO will be able to find the right balance between the old non-hybrid LMP1 and hypercar with trans-power. type designed to go much slower.

But if Alpine has one ace up the aisle compared to the competition, the fact is that his car built in Oreca is a proven platform in which three Le Mans are already start under his belt, with two of those getting the full podium finish.

“We know the reliability has been pretty good in the last few years,” Negrao said. “He did a lot of Le Mans, races and a lot of laps. So we know the car is working well. I think as soon as we know the car is okay to go to Le Mans, we can fight to win. “

# 36 Alpine A480 LMP1: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

Photo by: Alpine