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MotoGP World Championship – Grand Prix of the Americas

New points for Oliveira

By finishing fourteenth on the Americas circuit, Miguel Oliveira has scored two new points that now make him sixteenth in the MotoGP standings.

After finishing on the heels of Pol Espargaro in Argentina, Miguel Oliveira completed the Grand Prix of the Americas in the wake of Johann Zarco, the other official KTM rider. An encouraging performance for the Portuguese. “This weekend was complicated,” he says. “In addition to the fact that the circuit is very difficult, the weather hasn’t helped us. The cancellation of the third free practice session reduced our time on the track and our ability to better adjust the bike. The track being very bumpy, we didn’t start in the best conditions.” That did not stop the KTM Tech 3 rider from finishing a skilful race and hold off the two Ducatis ridden by Tito Rabat and Karel Abraham to the finish. Hafizh Syahrin has a little more difficulty, the Malaysian rider finishing eighteenth, more than twenty seconds behind his teammate. In Moto2, Álex Márquez managed to take the lead early in the race. Starting from the front row, the former Moto2 world champion rode the first laps at a good pace before making a few small mistakes that made him lose contact with the leaders. He finally ranked fifth. Xavi Vierge was less successful on the other hand. Badly placed on the grid, the Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS rider found himself on the ground just after the start by being hit at the entry to the first bend by Fabio Di Giannantonio. Marco Bezzecchi also fell at the start of the race while Philipp Oettl took the chequered flag in eighteenth position.

The Championship

If he has slipped back to fifth place in the Moto2 overall standings after the Grand Prix of the Americas, Álex Márquez is still only fourteen points behind the leader, Lorenzo Baldassari, who fell in Texas. Unfortunate since the start of the season, Xavi Vierge finds himself in eighteenth place on the evening of the third race of the season. Marco Bezzecchi and Philipp Oettl are still running after their first points. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira has lost a place despite the two points scored in Austin. The Portuguese rider is sixteenth, tying on points with Jorge Lorenzo.

The Alpine A110 GT4 wins first-ever GT4 International Cup

With the victory of the n°36 Alpine A110 GT4 entered by the CMR team and driven by Pierre-Alexandre Jean and Pierre Sancinéna at the Bahrain International Circuit, Alpine adds another success to an extremely rich and eloquent history.

Organised by SRO during the Bapco Bahrain GT Festival at Sakhir, the first GT4 International Cup, a genuine World Cup for the category, brought together 21 crews and 10 constructors from around the world to conclude the 2018 season in style.

Right from free practice, the Alpine A110 GT4s prepared by the CMR team with Signatech technical support were on point. The n°36 set best time in the opening session before the n°26 of Antoine Leclerc and David Tuchbant did the same in session two.

After a low-profile qualifying despite Antoine Leclerc’s fifth place in Q2, the Alpine showed once again its potential in the two qualifying races. While the n°26 hit troubles in the field in both races, the sister car made two superb strong runs before the night-time grand finale. Forced to start at the rear of the field for the main race, David Tuchbant soon had to retire while Pierre-Alexandre Jean was starting to put on quite a show.

Third in the FFSA French GT Championship at just 17 years of age, Pierre-Alexandre Jean passed a dozen cars to move up to 7th on lap one. Fifth a lap later, the French driver was up to third place on lap five.

During the driver change window, Pierre-Alexandre Jean extended his stint as long as he could. With a clear track ahead of him, he put in a qualifying-like lap to make the difference before handing over to Pierre Sancinéna.

Once behind the wheel, the first champion of the Alpine Elf Europa Cup left the pits with the lead thanks to the hard work of his team mate. Never worried, the Normandy native was able to manage his pace while also gradually increasing his lead despite the German armada that was chasing from behind.

A few second after the clock reached the one-hour mark, the Alpine A110 GT4 in the blue, white and red Elf colours sealed the win and its triumph in the GT4 world… Barely five months after it competition debut!

Lionel Chevalier, Signatech Technical Director: “We are extremely proud to see an Alpine A110 GT4 win the first-ever GT4 International Cup. This victory is the reward for the work the Signatech Automobiles team put in for nearly 18 months and for the past several months with the CMR team. I want to congratulate them all, but also Pierre-Alexandre Jean and Pierre Sancinéna, two drivers who have starred in the Alpine A110 GT4 and Alpine A110 Cup. Following our successes in the both the French and European championships, this first world crown confirms the potential of our car. This is an incredible source of motivation for the future, even more so with such a high level of competition this weekend! We can’t wait to be in 2019 season to defend this title and set off on the conquest of different national and international championships.”

MotoGP World Championship – Australian Grand Prix

Mir returns to the podium

Joan Mir has come to the end of a difficult period and has returned to the podium at the Australian Grand Prix. This second place has brought the MotoGP World Championship back up to fifth position in the Moto2 classification.

The races

In spite of a difficult qualifying round and a modest fourteen position at the starting gate, Joan Mir completed a fantastic race on the Phillip Island circuit where last year he was crowned Moto3 world champion. The Spanish contestant kept the bit between his teeth and gained a strong second place after battling it out in the company of Binder and Vierge. Alex Marquez, still out of sorts after another crash during the practice sessions, finished in seventh position. Franco Morbidelli achieved his best MotoGP performance by crossing the finishing line in eighth position. For the fourth time since the beginning of the year, Tom Lüthi finished just outside the points in sixteenth position.

The championship

Thanks to the twenty points gained in Australia, Joan Mir is now in fifth position in the Moto2 classification just three points behind Lorenzo Baldassari in fourth place. Alex Marquez is now in sixth place after dropping a position to his teammate. Still in fourteenth place in the MotoGP, Franco Morbidelli has confirmed his leading position in the “Rookie of the Year” classification.

History

Australia, which has been represented in the speed world championships since 1989, organised its thirtieth Grand Prix event this year. The first two events were held at Phillip Island before moving to the Eastern Creek circuit near Sydney in the state of New South Wales. They remained there for six years before returning to the state of Victoria. The Phillip Island circuit has seen some particularly memorable contests since 1997. “This track is unique,” explains Franco Morbidelli. In addition to its geographical situation and the amazing view over the ocean, the Phillip Island circuit presents a unique challenge. It is an extremely fast track with very few deceleration points and a lot of highly technical bends which come in quick succession. This is what makes the races so memorable for the spectators.” This is compounded by chaotic weather conditions characterised by wind, showers and very cool austral spring temperatures all of which combine to create a breath-taking spectacle.

Bol d’Or – Success stalemated

Success stalemated

Leading the way until two-and-a-half hours from the finish, the SRC Kawasaki team finally passed the finish line of the 82nd Bol d’Or in seventh position. A huge disappointment for Gilles Stafler’s men.

Last year, on the Castellet circuit, the Kawasaki #11 threw in the towel before the end of the first hour of the race. Randy de Puniet had been forced to retire during his first relay, while he was largely in the lead. This year,the Kawasaki SRC team were stalemated once again. Everything had started well for Gilles Stafler’s men. Taking the lead after setting a new track record of 1’54″007 during the practice test sessions, Randy de Puniet and Jérémy Guarnoni and David Checa, Kawasaki’s new rookie for the 2018/2019 season, were in good shape. Despite a small fuel outage of no consequence after three hours of racing, a change of saddle at the beginning of the night for a lighting problem, and a puncture a few hours later, Gilles Stafler’s team thought they were on the road to victory, being three laps ahead of the Honda FCC. Motorbike mechanics unfortunately decided otherwise. “I had a first warning before passing the handlebars to Jeremy,” said Randy de Puniet. “The shifter was not working properly and I was having trouble shifting gears.” Guarnoni had to go to the pits several times to allow the mechanics to identify the fault and to change the parts in question. In the end, the Kawasaki passed under the checkered flag of the 82nd Bol d’Or in seventh position, eleven laps behind the winner.

Sebastien Loeb scores another podium for Peugeot at RX Latvia

The 9th round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Latvia was extremely closely-fought: to the extent that the winning margin in one of the Qualifying races (Q1) was just 0.009 seconds – or 23 centimetres on track! In the end, it was another podium for Team PEUGEOT Total, with Sebastien Loeb taking 3rd position, his 3rd straight podium finish in Riga and 6th of the season so far. On top of that, all 3 PEUGEOT 208 WRX lined up together in the Final: a great achievement for PEUGEOT in only its 1st year in this complex discipline. Even if the Final race didn’t entirely go to plan for Timmy Hansen and Kevin Hansen, who finished 5th and 6th respectively, it was still a strong team showing, with a useful points haul. Loeb was the second-best points-scorer of the weekend, while Team PEUGEOT Total scored more points (45) than any other team in Riga. PEUGEOT Sport remains in line with its target of challenging for wins, and there is still plenty to hope for from the next adventure in the USA, in just 10 days.

QUOTE/UNQUOTE

 

Bruno Famin, PEUGEOT SPORT Director
“Despite a Saturday that was quite tricky for us, with a few incidents in the Quali 2 session, we were able to fight back on Sunday, with 2 strong performances in Quali 3 and Quali 4 this morning, which led to an extremely strong Semi-final: I will admit that we were quite proud of this achievement. The Final was less good, which characterises what was quite a mixed weekend for us in the end, with some positives and some negatives. On the positive side, we have seen once again that the speed of the car is very good, allowing Sebastien to claim his 6th podium from 9 events. On the other hand, it’s clear that we still have some work to do, as we expected in our very 1st year with a full factory programme on the FIA World Rallycross Championship. The launch off the line is still one of our weakest points. We will be applying ourselves to that task, diligently and humbly, over the coming weeks and months. Again, I send all my thanks to all the people involved in this project, who are working relentlessly behind the scenes.”

Sebastien Loeb, PEUGEOT 208 WRX Evo #9 – 2nd in Riga
“The weekend went quite well: we made a good start right from Q1, then we struggled a bit more in Q2, hitting a barrier, which cost us some time. Q3 and Q4 today were especially good: I think we have a solid pace but the problem we have is that the 3 manufacturers here have nearly the same speed, so it’s very hard to make a difference on the track, and at the moment we’re not consistent enough at the race starts. Quite often I lose a place by the 1st corner, and that’s actually what happened in the Final today. But I’m happy to be back on the podium, of course! We just need to find a little bit more to be challenging for the victory and that’s going to be our objective between now and the end of the season. There aren’t any miracles in this sport, but you just have to work hard to understand how to improve. It’s definitely only a question of time, for the whole team.”

Timmy Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX Evo #21 – 5th in Riga
“I’m happy with the result of this weekend overall and I think 5th is a fair reflection of what I deserved. My start wasn’t perfect in the Final and I was probably missing a bit to be challenging at the very top, but overall the speed was very, very good and we’ve seen some good progress; especially when we ended up with 3 PEUGEOTs in the Final. If we carry on working in this way, I think we can definitely achieve our goals. My highlight of the weekend was Qualifying 3: it’s a race that we won, where we were able to run in clean air and maximise all our opportunities away from traffic. I really enjoyed myself driving the PEUGEOT 208 WRX Evo. Now I will fly to the USA, where I will participate in the Nitro Games organised by Travis Pastrana prior to the next WRX race. So it’s only fun ahead!”

Kevin Hansen, PEUGEOT 208 WRX #71 – 6th in Riga
“I’m actually more than happy: I’m really delighted. I got through to the Final, for the 4th time this year, and I raced well all weekend. What makes me particularly pleased was the way that we reacted to the setbacks we experienced on Saturday. It was looking really tough but with the help of the team, we dug deep and were able to fight back: it’s really an extraordinary group of people here who never give up. From my perspective, I feel that I’m learning more all the time with this car and that we’re continuing the learning curve that we embarked on. I’m eager to make more progress now!”

NEXT ROUND (#10/12): USA – September 29th & 30th
​The FIA World Rallycross Championship resumes in a fortnight, from 29-30 September, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. This venue is also home to the United States Grand Prix, but the rallycross track is a brand new purpose-built facility in the stadium area between turns 12 and 15, located in a natural amphitheatre so that fans can see the entire layout from any seat. The event also promises a festival-type atmosphere, with music and other entertainments scheduled as well as all the WRX action on track.

Superbike World Championship – Misano

Rea: Racing Science, Riding Art

After California, it was Italy that saw Jonathan Rea shine brightly. As at Laguna Seca, the Kawasaki rider won the two races of the weekend in Misano. With class and authority.

Kawasaki Racing Team

The Races

Superlatives start to fail when it comes to telling of Jonathan Rea’s exploits. In Misano, the Brit still showed off the science of racing and the art of riding by winning on Saturday and Sunday. Rea won the first race after completing all the laps in the lead after a great start from second place on the grid. The Kawasaki rider went looking for his second victory racing all out. “If the first race was more or less easy, the second was much more complicated,” he said. “Starting from the third line, you really have to be aggressive in the first laps and overtake without asking any questions. But once again the qualities of my bike allowed me to do my best, and I must admit that the new, wider Pirelli tires suit me down to the ground.” After overtaking Davies and Sykes, Rea got rid of Melandri and van der Mark to chalk up the sixty-fourth victory of his career. Starting from pole position, Tom Sykes had to settle for fifth place on Saturday afternoon. “I had the same worries as in Thailand with a dribble on the front wheel entering the corners,” regretted the former world champion. “We found the solutions the next day by changing the fork but I still lacked grip on the maximum angle to do better than a new fifth place.” Toprak Razgatlioglu finished eleventh and twelfth, while in Supersport Okubo had his best result of the season with ninth place. Sheridan Morais did not finish.

The Championship

On the eve of the summer break, Jonathan Rea has further consolidated his leading position. He now has three hundred and seventy points, ninety-two more than Chaz Davies, his current runner-up. Thanks to his twin top five, Tom Sykes has consolidated his fourth place. In the manufacturers’ standings, Kawasaki leads with fifty-nine points.

The Background

With the two new wins he has just chalked up at Misano, Jonathan Rea has not only increased his overall lead in the World Superbike Championship. Thanks to his new twin-win, the third of the season, the Kawasaki rider, who has won more than half of the races in which he competed this year, is doing as much good for his statistics as those of the Akashi factory. He now has a record of sixty-four victories and one hundred and twenty-seven podiums. And for Kawasaki, whose number of successes now stands at one hundred and twenty, it means the Japanese make has now taken second place behind Ducati in the standings of the most successful manufacturers in the history of the Superbike World Championship.

Signatech Alpine Matmut battles back for a podium finish at Spa-Francorchamps

  • The FIA WEC World Endurance Championship began today with the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium).

  • Signatech Alpine Matmut got the first pole of the year in the LMP2 category.

  • Despite a severe drive-through penalty early in the race, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet put in a fantastic comeback drive to get their campaign off to a strong start with a large points haul.

  • The team will now start its preparation for the 24-Hours of Le Mans with the June 3rd Test Day in sight.

     

Contested in ideal Spring-like weather, the three free-practice sessions allowed Signatech Alpine Matmut to fine-tune the set-ups on the Alpine A470 and to correct over-steering issues they encountered early in the weekend.

Everything fell into place during a qualifying session marked by two long interruptions that slowed the No. 36 in its tracks. Associated with Pierre Thiriet, Nicloas Lapierre kept his cool to set the benchmark time in LMP2 and gave the team the first pole of the season by 0.024s.

On Saturday, the temperature was even warmer for the start of the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps at 13:30 in front of the packed grandstands.

Forced wide at turn one, Nicolas Lapierre had to straddle the kerb and dropped to seventh place. The early woes continued when the Frenchman received a drive-through penalty when the race direction felt that the return to the track had been done outside the regulations.

Nicolas Lapierre served his penalty before Pierre Thiriet took over in the first round of pit stops. The Silver driver showed speed and consistency on his double-stint as he made the most of the safety car period to make up ground and move up to fourth place.

Just after half-distance, André Negrão headed on to the track in third position before overtaking Weiron Tan during his triple-stint. Nicolas Lapierre then got back in the car behind the n°26 G-Drive.

As the final hour began, another safety car intervention wiped out the advantage that was patiently built by the crew. Signatech Alpine Matmut took advantage to bring Nicolas Lapierre in after his second stint.

André Negrão got back in the car to finish the race. After getting the absolute most out of his tyres to build a lead from his closest rivals, the Brazilian driver dropped behind Ho-Pin Tung on the last stint. The n°36 Alpine A470 took the chequered flag in third place.

Signatech Alpine Matmut will now turn its attention towards the 24-Hours of Le Mans, which will kick off on the June 3rd Test Day.

WEC at Spa-Francorchamps

What they said

Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal   « This new season began with a pole position and a podium. This shows that our level of performance and our drivers were on point. Unfortunately, we had a complicated start to the race when Nicolas was pushed wide and got boxed in. In the heat of the moment, he played it safe, but received a penalty for returning to the track too early over the kerb. So, we opted for an aggressive strategy hoping for a safety car. This put us into second place for a long time behind the G-Drive, which was ineligible for points. Alas, the safety car in the final hour cost us a lot in destroying our fourty-second lead. For the final run to the flag, the guys behind us were on new tyres while we had used all of ours trying to make up ground. We still have to work on the consistency and wear of the tyres, but our three drivers gel together nicely. This should be one of or strong suits this season. Now the time has come to go into ‘Le Mans’ mode. Like each year, we will put in a new engine, new gearbox and new running gear. The next few weeks will be intense as we try to anticipate all the possible scenarios for the June Classic. »

Nicolas Lapierre wec

Nicolas Lapierre:   «We are starting the season on a solid foundationwith a good overall cohesion and purperformance that saw us get the pole yesterday. The team got everything sorted out between the free-practice sessions and a tough qualifying session with two red flags. At the start, there was some confusion among the LMP1 cars and I had to go on to the other side of the curbing. The race director felt that I didn’t return to the track in the proper manner. Yes, the penalty was harsh, but it is my responsibility. Like the entire team, I can’t wait for the next challenges. »

 

 

 

André Negrão WEC

André Negrão:   «It is a good result, but we    could’ve done better. Pierreand Nico did a fantastic job in getting the pole. It is a shame though that the hectic start penalised us just until the end of the race. We made up all the lost time, but the end of the race was tough with very used tyres. We need to continue to work in this area for the 24-Hours, but we will be back even stronger for Le Mans.  »

 

 

 

 

 

Pierre Thiriet WECPierre Thiriet:   «Although it is always disappointing not to win, we will get there in the long run and this is an excellent result. There are a lot of positive points in the way we carried on after some complicated free-practice sessions. Today, I had a lot of fun in the close fights while trying to stay in touch with the leaders in traffic. Our slightly offset strategy didn’t really work out. We need to work more on our race pace, but I have every confidence in the team.  »

Standings

Total 6 Heures de Spa-Francorchamps – LMP2

1. G-Drive Racing n°26 – 156 laps
2. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 +21.714s
3. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 +55.737s
4. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°37 + 1 lap
5. TDS Racing n°28 + 1 lap
6. DragonSpeed n°31 + 1 lap
7. Larbre Competition n°50 + 4 laps
8. Racing Team Nederland n°29 + 17 laps

FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2*

1. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 – 25 points
2. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 – 19 points
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°37 – 15 points
4. TDS Racing n°28 – 12 points
5. DragonSpeed n°31 – 10 points
6. Larbre Competition n°50 – 8 points
7. Racing Team Nederland n°29 – 6 points
*Not entered for the WEC Super Season, the n°26 G-Drive is ineligible to score points.

GCK reaches final in 2nd ever race at Montalegre RX

29th April, Montalegre, Portugal
Round 2 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship at Montalegre race circuit saw GC-Kompetition successfully introduce both GCK Mégane R.S. RX to the track in the Portugese mountains as Guerlain Chicherit reached the team’s first Championship finals and placed 5th overall whilst Jérôme Grosset-Janin just missed out on a spot in the semi-finals finishing the weekend in P14 after Q4.

With both drivers completely new to this track, Saturday saw them impress with ever-improving pace as the sun beat down on the dusty track, with Guerlain placing 2nd in Q1 and posting GCK’s first ever top 5 qualification result finishing in 4th overall. Jérôme took the lead in his qualifier but a tap by Johan Kristoffersson into the first corner pushed him out resulting in him placing 15th overall after Q1.
Jérôme went on to win his Q2, whilst Guerlain finished 5th in his group, wrapping up day 1 in 14th and 8th place respectively.

Sunday delivered extremely challenging weather conditions with a mix of sun, hail, rain and even snow keeping the teams on their toes throughout the day. Guerlain and Jérôme lined up together for an early Q3 on a very wet track and whilst they finished 1st and 2nd respectively, a 5 second penalty for Chicherit for contact in the first corner and a drying track resulting in quickly tumbling times in the following qualifiers, saw them finish Q3 in 10th and 14th overall.

Q4 saw Guerlain and Jérôme line up together again and, showing increasing confidence on the new track as the rain beat down, Chicherit finished 2nd right behind Timur Timerzyanov with Grosset-Janin placing 4th, resulting in 11th place and a semi-final spot for Guerlain and a 14th place for Jerome at the end of Q4.

The Portugese mountains delivered a beautiful backdrop as the sun made an appearance again for the 1st semi-finals on a dry track. Guerlain lined up on the 3rd row and raced cleanly and strongly beating Kevin Hansen, Mattias Ekström and Niclas Grönholm to a spot in the final, as he finished in 3rd place behind Johan Kristofferson and Andreas Bakkerud.

Lining up for the final on row 3 next to Petter Solberg for the first ever Championship race in heavy snow, race conditions like never seen before in the history of World Rallycross saw Guerlain race his
way into 5th place behind Johan Kristofferson, Sebastien Loeb, Petter Solberg and Andreas Bakkerud.

Guerlain Chicherit commented: “It was a really incredible weekend for GC-Kompetition and for me personally as I achieved my first ever spot in a Championship final on the team’s 2nd ever outing in the
newly built GCK Mégane R.S. RX. It’s a really promising start to the season and I’m excited to see what we may be able to achieve as our confidence and experience in the car increases. I really loved racing
this track and can’t wait to be back next year. I’m really proud of the team who works super hard to ensure we continue to improve every time we are in the car.”

Jérôme Grosset-Janin added: “It was a challenging start to the weekend for us as we had to quickly learn the track having never been here before. Our lap times are ever improving as we’re mixing it with the Championship regulars and I’m really happy with the team’s results this weekend. Contact in my Q1 and the resulting time meant I had to continue fighting my way back from then on but I’m getting more and more confident in the car as we learn to adapt to different conditions, so I’m really looking forward to Belgium to continue pushing for that podium position.”

The SRC in the top five

Forced to retire from the Bol d’Or last September, the Kawasaki SRC team clinched a fifth-place finish at Le Mans after a heroic come-back.

 

Everything had started well for the team of Gilles Stafler … On the eve of the start, Randy de Puniet was letting guns do the talking by signing the fastest time of the free practice sessions. The former Grand Prix rider demonstrated that the Kawasaki ZX-RR # 11 on the Sarthe track could still be counted on.

Right from the first handover, De Puniet concretized the ambitions of the SRC team by fighting it out for the lead of the race with Kenny Foray, rider of the BMW No. 48. Both equipped with Pirelli tyres, the two machines put on a show in front of the 76,000 spectators around the Bugatti circuit. And then came the time for the first refuelling. Randy de Puniet left the handlebars to Mathieu Gines who, unfortunately, was to fall on his first lap. By the time they got back to the pits and make the necessary repairs, Randy de Puniet had to resume the race in forty-sixth position, far from the GMT 94 which had just taken control of the race.

Driven by their courage more than anything else, the riders of the Kawasaki No. 11 made a comeback as the laps sped by until a radiator problem once again plunged them into the depths of the overall classification.

Despite this second blow, Randy de Puniet, Jeremy Guarnoni and Mathieu Gines whipped their machine into shape during the two clocked laps to return to the top five. For their perseverance the Kawasaki SRC team won the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit Trophy which rewards fighting and sporting spirit. Fifth at ten laps from the winner, the FCC TSR Honda France team, the Kawasaki SRC team also scored its first points in the 2017/2018 World Endurance Championship at Le Mans.

Which means Gilles Stafler’s team is eleventh overall with twenty-seven points. The next event is in Slovakia on May 12 and 13.

Another second place for Signatech Alpine Matmut, who remain in contention for the world title!

  • Runner-up at the 6 Hours of Shanghai, the no.36 Signatech Alpine Matmut crew recorded a fifth consecutive LMP2 podium in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
  • The result of the Lapierre/Negrão/Menezes crew was obtained thanks to a strategy focused on efficiency, paired with fuel and tyre management.
  • Alpine therefore heads for the season-ending finale in Bahrain on 18 November with its hopes still alive of retaining the LMP2 world title.

The cars lined up on the starting grid in grey, overcast conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit. The no.36 Alpine A470 began in fifth place in the LMP2 class following a frustrating time in qualifying, during which André Negrão had been held up on his fastest lap.

The opening corners of the race were eventful, with Nico Müller (no.26 car) spinning in the middle of the field. Nicolas Lapierre took advantage of the incident to race clear and end the opening lap in second position in the LMP2 category, just behind Bruno Senna (no.31 car).

Quickly adopting a pace aimed at preserving the car’s fuel and tyres, Nico remained second throughout his first two stints. He then handed over to André Negrão, who managed to withstand the pressure he was put under by his rivals whilst also keeping clear of the many clashes throughout the field.

Shortly before the race’s halfway point, the Brazilian handed over driving duties to Gustavo Menezes, who also completed two stints. Like his team-mates, the Californian adopted the strategy defined by the team: he stayed as close as possible to the leader, whilst managing fuel consumption and looking after the tyres.

With an hour and a half of the race left to go, Nicolas Lapierre got back in the car for the final two stints. At that point, the competitors showed their hands and the various race strategies became fully apparent.

Like the no.31 car, which went on to win the race, the no.36 Alpine A470 only made seven pit stops in six hours, compared with eight for the no.13 and 38 cars, the other leading contenders who were ultimately relegated to third and fourth positions.

Thanks to its haul of 18 points, Signatech Alpine Matmut consolidates its third place in the LMP2 Teams championship standings. Trailing the top two by 23 and 19 points respectively, the French squad remains in the title race. The ninth and final round of the season will be held on 18 November at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Quote, unquote

Bernard Ollivier, Alpine Deputy Managing Director
“It’s a very good second place, one we had to work very hard to get. The team showed great skill and dedication. The drivers did a great job in looking after the tyres and managing fuel consumption for six hours, enabling us to make one fewer pit stop over the course of the race. I imagine it may have been frustrating to drive like this, but ultimately the strategy paid off. Each member of the Signatech Alpine Matmut team played their role to perfection, and they can all be proud this evening. We’ll head to Bahrain believing in our chances. As always, we’ll give absolutely everything to finish the season in style.”

Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal
“We achieved our target for the weekend, which was to take the title race to Bahrain. After a tricky time in free practice, we had made good progress and our fifth place in qualifying didn’t reflect our true performance level. In the race, we knew that we would struggle to match the pace of the no.31 car, which was a class above the rest of the field. However, our perfect race allowed us to claim second place in normal racing conditions. We couldn’t have done any more as regards optimising our strategy. The low fuel alert was lighting up on every lap before the pit stops! In order to achieve this result, we also needed the drivers and the mechanics to produce a flawless performance and that’s exactly what we all managed to do. We are therefore still in the title race. It will be difficult, because we now have to rely upon factors outside of our control in the final round. But we’ll do all we can to bring about a successful outcome!”

Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36

Nicolas Lapierre
“We produced a solid race to hold onto second place. Apart from the no.31 car, which was quicker, I think we had the best performance in the race after progressing throughout the weekend. As it’s always difficult to overtake on this track, I took a few risks at the start and that’s what enabled me to move up into second place. From then on, we had a perfect race: the mechanics and both my team-mates did a very good job. Finishing as runners-up is the best result we could have hoped for and it leaves us with a small chance of winning the championship. “

MENEZES Gustavo

Gustavo Menezes
“I’d say that the result is better than we might have hoped for at the start of the weekend. Nico made very good start, then André managed to keep up a very good rhythm until he handed over to me. I managed to close a little bit on the leaders during my first stint, before then easing off again due to our strategy. As we had only changed the rear tyres, I had to deal with some understeer. In the end, second place is the result that we deserved. In Bahrain, our sights will be set purely on winning.”

 
 

NEGRAO Andre

André Negrão
“When I was driving, I was above all very focused on managing the tyres and preserving fuel. The car tended to oversteer a little and so I had to avoid overheating the rear tyres, in particular, in order to save a lap per stint. It was only towards the end of my second stint that I was able to push to try and reduce the gap. I made up close to thirty seconds on the no.31 and I think I did a good job at this point in the race. It was nice to be able to fight like that, we really had a good strategy.”