After three productive Free Practice sessions, the Qualifying sessions allowed the Alpine A470 cars to show their worth. On the #36, Gustavo Menezes and Matt Rao set the second fastest time, only 23/1000th off the pole position. They were a breath ahead of their teammates Nelson Panciatici and André Negrão, who were only 5/1000th behind.
On Saturday, the start of the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps was given at 14h30. With full tribunes and springtime weather, all the ingredients were gathered to enjoy a great afternoon of motorsport.
At the start, Romain Dumas (#36) and Nelson Panciatici (#35) kept their positions despite a tumultuous field. The first hour ran like a Grand Prix, with Rusinov in the lead ahead of Dumas, Vergne, Panciatici, Senna and Piquet!
Senna soon found himself up in Dumas’ exhaust. The Brazilian was touching the Alpine, which lost two places after having to go wide. A little later, it was Panciatici’s turn to undergo assaults from an adversary: he spun after having been hit by Jarvis. After an hour of racing, the Alpine cars were relegated to the second half of the ranking…
With rear tyres destroyed – mainly due to an issue with traction control – Romain Dumas handed the wheel over to Matt Rao earlier than expected. The team changed the strategy while switching to a hard compound of tyres.
During his stints, Matt Rao put in a very good performance: combining performance and consistency, the Silver driver of the crew of the #36 climbed up to fourth place.
Having followed Nelson Panciatici at the wheel of the #35, Pierre Ragues had a harder time, as he found himself stuck at the entrance of the pitlane for a few very long seconds, after a mishandling of the car caused it to stop.
Halfway through the race, the #36 was in seventh place, whereas the #35 was in ninth. For their turn, Gustavo Menezes (#36) and André Negrão (#35) completed their part of the work. Like their teammates, they were not spared the adversities of fate: notably, Negrão had to shorten his third stint following a puncture.
The Alpine drivers didn’t give up and the #36 managed to climb into the top 5. Back behind the wheel, Romain Dumas even briefly held on to third place a little over one hour from the chequered flag. Unfortunately, the French was hit from behind by an LMP1. During the following stop, the mechanics had to change the rear fin block and Menezes took the wheel for the end of the race. The #36 Alpine A470 crossed the line in fifth position.
In the #35, Nelson Panciatici was entrusted with the final stints. Author of a very good performance, despite a track that had become slippery after a few drops of rain, the Parisian brought the second Alpine A470 over the line in sixth place.
In their words
Bernard Ollivier, Deputy Director-General of Alpine
“There are fifth and sixth positions that we could almost be proud of! During this difficult and painful race, we accumulated all sorts of problems. But the team and drivers never stopped fighting and our second half of the race was significantly better. The points gained when crossing the chequered flag will be undoubtedly important by the end of the season. Today, we weren’t’ able to show our true worth. That’ll be for Le Mans!”
Philippe Sinault, Team principal Signatech Alpine Matmut
“When problems accumulate, sometimes you have to make do with places of honour. At the start of the race, Romain Dumas was confronted with a quick tyre degradation, amplified by an electronics issue that prevented us from choosing the correct traction control mapping. This cost us an extra stop. Switching to a hard compound proved to be the right choice, as we managed to triple stint at the end of the race, with a good level of performance. The #35 was not spared, with the same early wear on the tyres, and an extra pit stop caused by a puncture. The positive aspect comes from our performance level. We have to better understand the management of the tyres. That will be our aim over the next weeks.”
Signatech Alpine Matmut #36
“We had a chaotic race, with important tyre degradation amplified by the failure of the traction control. With a few extra racing incidents, we weren’t in a position to get a better result. However, there are a few positive elements to take away, as we were amongst the quickest by the end of the race. We will all work together to understand what happened and to look for perfection for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
“I can quickly get frustrated, especially when I remember our victory from last year. After a positive qualifying, we thought we were in a position to fight with the others in the race. But we lost a lot of time due to various reasons. We are a team and we will have to work together to understand what went wrong and arrive in force at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
“Our result is disappointing, especially after having set the second best time in qualifying. After changing the tyre setup, we managed to climb back…up until the collision with an LMP1. We have definitely lacked success today, but I think that despite it all, it was a good preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Signatech Alpine Matmut #35
“The start of the race was difficult, I suffered a lot from the tyre degradation. Then I lost time after being pushed by another car. When the clouds arrived, we found a more consistent performance. In the same rhythm as the leaders, we progressively climbed back up the field.”
“We had a very competitive car, but whose setup might have been too much for the tyres. I am happy with my stint, because I managed to meet the team’s requests by correctly managing the tyres. We have some work ahead, to analyse this race and the influence of the various parameters, like the temperature. This new generation of cars in LMP2 is very interesting and I can’t wait to be at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
“We were far from the leaders when I took the wheel. The aim was to do three stints, but I got a puncture and had to stop a bit earlier than planned. I think I did a good job, with consistent times and a few overtaking manoeuvres which allowed me to hand the wheel over to Nelson in a better position. This first endurance race allowed me to better understand the discipline.”
WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – LMP2
1. G-Drive Racing #26 – 160 laps
2. Vaillante Rebellion #31 +53’’281
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 +1’14’’268
4. Vaillante Rebellion #13 +1 lap
5. Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 +1 lap
6. Signatech Alpine Matmut #35 +2 laps
7. CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24 +2 laps
8. CEFC Manor TRS Racing #25 +2 laps
9. TDS Racing #28 +2 laps
10. Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 +4 laps
FIA Endurance LMP2 “Teams” Trophy
1. Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 – 40 points
2. G-Drive Racing #26 – 37 points
3. Vaillante Rebellion #31 – 36 points
4. Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 – 22 points
5. TDS Racing #28 – 17 points
6. CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24 et Vaillante Rebellion #13 – 14 points
8. CEFC Manor TRS Racing #25 – 10 points
9. Signatech Alpine Matmut #35 – 8 points
10. Jackie Chan DC Racing #13 – 5 points