The 24h of Le Mans brings Alpine a third place in the Hypercar Class, making its debut in the first category this season of the FIA WEC and in the classic endurance of its home.
Given the superiority of the two Toyota GR010 Hybrids, one could not expect much from the ‘old’ LMP1 managed by the Signatech Team, aiming to make its own race and trying to be ready to take advantage of every little opportunity, without making mistakes.
On the other hand, the A480-Gibson LMP1 # 36 driven by André Negrão / Matthieu Vaxivière / Nicolas Lapierre – in addition to the now well-known Balance of Performance which ballasted and weakened it to be on a par with the Japanese – also had the trouble of having to stop before and several times in the pits to refuel, due to the smaller tank.
It was important not to miss anything, even if in the start of the race in the wet Lapierre spun out of “Indianapolis” sliding backwards, while on Saturday evening Vaxivière’s mistake (covered up at the first chicane of the “Hunaudières” straight) risked sending everything to the air, causing the French half to lose the podium momentarily, then regained by pushing and taking advantage of the best pace compared to the Glickenhaus.
At the end of the day, all the members of the transalpine team were satisfied with the third place overall and in the category achieved, aware that it was the maximum achievable possible.
“It is clear that we could have expected to go higher, but honestly it was hard to do more than that – admitted Lapierre – Toyota was stronger than us and we have to accept that, going back to working hard to get better next time. For the first time in the Hypercar Class, I think third place is incredible, the whole team made no mistakes during the race and we can be proud of it. “
Vaxivière added: “We have a very strong team, Philippe Sinault’s men have been working superbly since the beginning of the year, together we are doing very well. My two teammates had a great race, it ended well and we are happy. “.
Negrão is also of the same opinion: “There is great harmony between us and we must enjoy the podium, as well as a great result for Alpine and the whole team. The team had to work a lot with the new car and to manage the BoP, too. I think we have to accept the fact that the Toyotas were superior to us. Right in the end they had problems with the petrol system, but by now it was too late to try to undermine them. We thought about keeping the Glickenhaus behind us, which were strong here, and in the last few hours it has been a good fight between us. In general, I think it’s a really fantastic result for all of us. “
The team principal, Philippe Sinault, cannot help but take note of what happened at the Circuit de la Sarthe, admitting that actually we could not expect to go beyond this result.
“We had to have a perfect race to hope to beat the Toyota, I see no reason to be disappointed with how it went. It is clear that a win would have been historic for Alpine at Le Mans, but I think third place is an excellent result,” arrived in difficult conditions and after a demanding race “, comments Sinault.
“We are a small team that runs with only one car. We cannot afford to make mistakes and we were very close to throwing everything away overnight. We quickly realized that we didn’t have the performance to be able to win, so we focused on the bring home a very important podium, even for those who support us “.