2013 Le Mans 24 Hours : Mission accomplished for the Alpine A450!
- Thirty-five years after the famous 1978 victory, Alpine has made a successful return to the Le Mans 24 Hours.
- The fervour created by the Alpine A450 project at La Sarthe is testament to the enthusiasm and passion that the legendary Dieppe brand inspires.
- Tristan Gommendy, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues finish ninth in the LMP2 class.
- The Signatech Alpine squad was awarded the 38th ‘Prix ESCRA’ for the best technical performance by a team during the Le Mans 24 Hours.
- Signatech Alpine’s next outing will be in Austria for the third round of the European Le Mans Series (July 19-20).
Alpine has successfully achieved its first objective for its racing return. Launched on March 8, this participation in the LMP2 class of the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours has allowed the brand to truly appreciate the unwavering support of its fans.
On the track, Tristan Gommendy, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues made it to the finish of the race. Delayed by a troubled first few hours that necessitated two unscheduled pit visits, the Signatech Alpine trio subsequently fought back from 51st place to take the chequered flag ninth in the LMP2 class and 15th overall.
The efficiency of the Signatech Alpine outfit was underscored when a jury awarded the 38th ‘Prix ESCRA’ – for the best technical performance in the Le Mans 24 Hours – to the team’s mechanics Michaël Bimont, Pierre Gaches, Benoît Hamel and car chief Denis Motot.
“The first observation I must make is the calibre of our team,” affirms 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: “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: “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: “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.”
35 YEARS AGO
Having led the race from the 18th hour, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi benefitted from a large margin over their closest pursuer and despite a late gearbox scare, Pironi took the chequered flag some five laps ahead of the best-placed Porsche. Alpine’s objective was accomplished, and the Renault Alpine A442B entered the Le Mans 24 Hours history books!
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