Renault Alpine A450 24 Hours of Le Mans return
Tristan Gommendy, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues finished 9th in the LMP2 class while the Signatech Alpine squad was awarded 38th ‘Prix ESCRA’ for unsurpassed technical performance by any team during 24 Hours of Le Mans.
June 22 and 23 saw the return of the Alpine brand to 24 Hours of Le Mans, 35 years after Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi steered their Renault Alpine A442B to victory in the La Sarthe classic in 1978. The team were delayed at the start of the race due to two unscheduled visits to the pits after which they sped from 51st place to the 9th position in LMP2 class and in 15th position overall. Signatech Alpine now gets set for the next racing events to be held in Austria for third round of European Le Mans Series to be held on 19th and 20th July 2013.
This new Alpine A450 is built by Signatech. It boasts of a 4.5 liter V8 engine supplied by Renault alliance partner Nissan. “The first observation I must make is the calibre of our team,” said Signatech Alpine team principal Philippe Sinault. “The work that everybody has carried out in recent weeks – and particularly over the past 24 hours – has been outstanding. It was a tremendous source of pride to see our mechanics’ efforts recognised by a jury. That is significant, because they are very much a part of our future. We were also able to note just how much the sport’s fans want to see the fabulous Alpine story continue. The race was difficult mentally, but I think we demonstrated that we have a great deal of potential and the early frustrations were alleviated by our superb fight back. We needed to show everybody what we are capable of, but ultimately, victory is the only true satisfaction – and we will do everything within our power to reach that new goal as quickly as possible!”
Nelson Panciatici said, “I think we showed that we are competitive – our lap times underlined that we were in the ballpark – so I am naturally disappointed with the end result. My final stint was the most difficult one, but by then, there was nothing really left to fight for. This team and the Alpine A450 clearly have potential – we’ve proved that here!”
Tristan Gommendy said, “That was a particularly tough race. We made a few small mistakes, which caused us to drop out of the leading pack during the early phase of the race. We pushed flat-out to battle our way back, and it was towards the end of the race that I felt the most comfortable and set some strong lap times. My final stint was really enjoyable – I was in the car for almost three hours. Whatever the result, we will have very good memories of Alpine’s return to Le Mans this year!”
Pierre Ragues said, “I think that was the most difficult of the seven races I have driven at Le Mans. I didn’t do a single stint without it raining! The track conditions were constantly changing. For Alpine’s return to Le Mans, the weather could certainly have been kinder to us! We knew we needed to get to the finish, especially after the problems we had at the beginning of the race. On my side, I gave it everything I could, but I am obviously a bit disappointed and frustrated because our pace showed that our podium ambitions were definitely achievable.”