- The official name of the endurance racing prototype that will be run by Signatech-Alpine this season is ‘Alpine A450’, thereby continuing the naming system employed for the brand’s race cars of the 1970s.
- Barely a month after the announcement of the brand’s return to motor racing, the Alpine A450 will participate in its first race at Silverstone, United Kingdom, on April 12-13.
- The Signatech-Alpine team will contest all five rounds of the 2013 European Le Mans Series, as well as June’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
- The two drivers of the Alpine A450 in the European Le Mans Series are Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues.
- Renault’s Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares will be at Silverstone to experience the brand’s return to motor racing at first hand.
As a tribute to the Alpines which raced at Le Mans in the 1970s, the ‘LM P2’ prototype run by Signatech-Alpine has been christened ‘Alpine A450’.
“Alpine’s return to motor racing marks the beginning of a new adventure for this legendary brand,” says Carlos Tavares, Renault’s Chief Operating Officer. “Although our focus is very much on the future, with the development of a new car which is due to reach the market in 2016, we have not forgotten Alpine’s extraordinary heritage.”
“The name Alpine A450 stood out as a natural choice for this prototype which will contest the ELMS and the Le Mans 24 Hours. It pays tribute to the A441, A442 and A443 which raced at and – in the case of the A442B – won at Le Mans in the 1970s. The figure ‘50’ symbolises the fiftieth anniversary of Alpine’s first official entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
The Alpine A450’s first competitive outing will be at Silverstone, United Kingdom, this weekend (April 13), with drivers Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues, almost 35 years after the Alpine-Renault A442B’s landmark victory at Le Mans in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi.
The Alpine A450 will be the very first car of the brand to take part in an official race at Silverstone.
Signatech-Alpine’s Team Principal Philippe Sinault is eager to see his drivers in action: “I’m thrilled to be in the exciting last stages of preparing for the Alpine A450’s debut in the European Le Mans Series. The news of this project got a warm reception in France and elsewhere. We had very little time to prepare for the season but our efforts have already born fruit, thanks notably to our very close collaboration with Michelin. Our first tests were very constructive, but only the race itself can confirm whether our work has been good enough.”
After securing the fastest lap-time at the ELMS pre-season test at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, in March, Nelson Panciatici has high hopes for the team’s maiden appearance: “Silverstone is one of my favourite circuits. All racing drivers adore the sequence through ‘Copse’, ‘Maggots’ and ‘Becketts’ which is key to a strong lap. You also need a nicely balanced car and that’s where the Alpine could have an edge. We have done some very good work in recent weeks and we are ready for the start of the season. I know that Alpine has the potential to succeed”
Pierre Ragues thoughts follow similar lines: “The Signatech-Alpine team has worked hard on the car’s development and has introduced a high number of small evolutions. We are heading in the right direction and Silverstone will be our first litmus test. It’s a race I would love to win but we need to keep our feet on the ground. Strategy promises to play a key role in a three-hour event like this. It will be up to us to make the most of the Alpine A450’s potential in order to start the season with a good points haul.”
The first round of the championship has attracted an entry of 25 cars, including 9 in the premier ‘LM P2’ class.
Tristan Gommendy, who will join Alpine as its third driver for the Le Mans 24 Hours, will also travel to Silverstone to continue familiarising himself with the team. Meanwhile, Alpine’s junior driver Paul-Loup Chatin will contest the race in an LM PC car.
Friday, April 12
- 9:00am – Free practice 1 (60 minutes)
- 2:10pm – Free practice 2 (60 minutes)
Saturday, April 13
- 11:35am – Qualifying (20 minutes)
- 3:00pm – Race (3 hours)