November 10, 2016 @ 11:45 AM

Alpine reaches new heights with the 2016 LMP2 Teams’ title win

Signatech-Alpine crowned as LMP2 champion after four race wins and two podium finishes

The Alpine name might still be fresh in today’s endurance racing scene, but they have reached new heights in a blink of an eye as they were crowned the LMP2 Teams’ champion after securing a fourth place at the recent 6 Hours of Shanghai. Still one race before the end of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the trio of Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes had also secured the Drivers’ crown.


The 2016 season was definitely on the team’s side as they had won four races – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and another two podium finishes to claim the LMP2 Category Teams’ and Drivers titles in the FIA WEC.


According to the Managing Director of Alpine, Michael Van der Sande, “securing this world title on the track is a fantastic boost for the teams working on the production model, which is due to go on sale next year”.


Signing up for the 2015 FIA WEC season, the team was dedicated to learn more about racing in this level and had even performed spectacularly by bagging the first Alpine A450b win at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. With valuable experience gained in 2015, the team went a step further in 2016 by entering two new Alpine A460s: the No.35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine and No.36 Signatech-Alpine.


After making their mark at Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans, the Green Hell and Austin, Alpine had their sights locked on the title at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. Having qualified second for the No.36 and tenth for No.35, Lapierre made good progress at the start where he grabbed the early lead in the LMP2 class, which he then gave the position up to Alex Brundle after half an hour into the race to save the tyres.


Things were a bit unlucky for Alpine No.35 when Ho-Pin Tung came into contact with a GT at the end of the start-finish straight. However, the damage was not too extensive as after changing the front hood while Paul-Loup Chatin took over the wheel, the No.35 was back in action.


After replacing Lapierre, bad luck had befallen Gustavo Menezes as well when he went into a spin after receiving a hit from Bruno Senna while running in third position. Miraculously, the No.36 received no damage from the shunt and was able to continue racing. Stephane Richelmi then replaced Menezes and after a double stint, Lapierre found himself back behind the wheel to bring the car to the finishing line.


He might not be able to challenge the race leader but by crossing the finishing line in fourth place, he was able to collect enough points for the team to secure the class’ title.


“We knew what our objective was this weekend. After finishing all the races without having any mechanical issues or crashes, we were focusing on winning the title,” said Lapierre. “I’m proud to win this world title for Alpine, after what has been an exceptional season!”, he added.


“It’s a bit frustrating not to finish on the podium, but we achieved the goal we had set ourselves with this third title in four years,” said the Signatech-Alpine Team principal, Philippe Sinault. “The standard was incredibly high this year and our rivals pushed us to the very limit. We’d love to finish the year in style in Bahrain!”


The celebrations were shared by the Baxi DC Racing Alpine crew as well because after replacing Ho-Pin Tung, David Cheng brought the No.35 car safely to finish in eighth place.


“Going with hard tyres for qualifying and part of the race was probably not the best option. 
However, the car worked well with the medium tyres,” commented Cheng on the tyre strategy. “Ho-Pin and Paul-Loup had a good race and I'm also pleased with my stints.”
 


Hussein Zain

 

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