Renault Alpine Le Mans 24 Hours
In addition to defending the ELMS title it secured in 2013, Alpine has set its sights higher for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours
- Alpine’s motorsport comeback in 2013 was rewarded with the overall title in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
- This year, Signatech-Alpine has set its sights even higher since, in addition to defending its ELMS title, it is targeting a podium finish in the LM P2 class at Le Mans.
- Briton Oliver Webb has been recruited to drive alongside Frenchmen Nelson Panciatici and Paul-Loup Chatin.
- Alpine’s motor racing programme fits perfectly with the brand’s revival, and the 21st Century’s take on the famous Ber-linette is poised to reach the market in 2016.
Alpine’s successful return to motor racing in 2013 harvested one race win and three podium finishes which confirmed that the legendary marque meant business. The priority for its second season of the modern era is the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“A new chapter in the brand’s extraordinary history began last season," notes Bernard Ollivier. “We were aware that it was an ambitious pro-gramme when we announced it, yet the talent of everyone involved with the team and the hard work they all put in helped us to claim our first suc-cesses of the modern era. That was just the beginning of the adventure. Alpine’s roots are steeped in motorsport, human adventure, a taste for technical challenges and exciting production car projects. We also have an international calling and we are delighted to announce that we will have a British driver in our line-up for 2014.”
“Winning the Teams’ and Drivers’ titles in 2013 was a tremendous reward for everybody’s efforts,” adds Signatech-Alpine’s Team Principal, Philippe Sinault. “The human adventure which started at the beginning of 2013, the popularity of Alpine’s return to motor racing and the different trophies we have won since have sparked off an incredible energy, and our second season promises to be even more captivating! Everyone in the team is ready for the year’s challenge and the focus of their motivation is very much on the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Changes to the regulations which govern the European Le Mans Series mean that races will be longer in 2014. ELMS rounds will now last four hours and three drivers will share the driving.
Last year’s European Le Mans Series Drivers’ champion Nelson Panciatici will continue in the Alpine A450 in 2014: “Since winning the ELMS trophy, all I want to do is win more races. We are determined to defend our titles and also perform well at Le Mans. Paul-Loup Chatin and Oliver Webb are both very strong drivers.”
In addition to being Alpine’s ‘Junior’ driver in 2013, Paul-Loup Chatin was the revelation of the season. Not only did he demonstrate an ability to adapt swiftly to the niceties of endurance racing, but he also claimed the LM PC title in the European Le Mans Series. In 2014, he will be seen be-hind the wheel of the Alpine A450.
“It’s another step up the ladder,” says Paul-Loup. “Moving to Signatech-Alpine was something of a gamble, but the titles it won in 2013 are proof that the project was built on solid foundations. The objective now is to continue the upward curve. It will be up to us to match the team’s ambitions.”
In terms of its drivers, Signatech-Alpine was an all-French operation in 2013, but this year has seen it take on a more international dimension with the arrival of the up-and-coming British youngster Oliver Webb.
The 22-year old is poised to start his first season of endurance racing after a strong early career in single-seaters. Like his new team-mates, he intends to use his experience to win with Signatech-Alpine, while his integration in the squad has been facilitated by his special ties with France through his French mother.
“This will be a new adventure for me,” he underlines. “I like the spirit you find in endurance racing and I am also drawn by the idea of team racing. Driving for Signatech-Alpine is the ideal way for me to cut my teeth in the discipline. Alpine is part of the automobile industry’s heritage and is strongly associated with Le Mans. We have already started working to-gether and I find the team to be extremely professional, friendly and bond-ed. There’s a great atmosphere and that has certainly contributed to the results it has racked up to date.”
The Alpine A450 will make its first public appearance of the year on April 1-2 at the European Le Mans Series’ official pre-season test at Le Castellet, France.