|

Signatech-Alpine: a heart that beats at 300kph!

‹ BACK

Signatech-Alpine: a heart that beats at 300kph!

The blue waters of the Persian Gulf provided the ideal backdrop to Alpine’s title-winning celebrations!
Philippe Sinault and his three drivers were unable to conceal their joy as they were presented with the trophy to cheers from Signatech-Alpine staff. From the year’s pre-season test at Le Castellet, France, to the finale in Bahrain, the N°36 A460 notched up a glittering score of four wins, seven podium finishes and the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP2 title! We look back at the emotionally charged campaign.

Flashback

March
25 Prologue, Le Castellet

19h50

“This title is more of a consecration than a surprise.
We worked hard and made sure that all the cards were stacked in our favour.”

15h28

For 2016, the team decided to run two prototypes:
the N°36 car, shared by Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes, plus the Baxi DC Racing-entered N°35 machine for David Cheng, Ho-Pin Tung and Nelson Panciatici. The pre-season was used to evaluate a variety of set-ups and size up the year’s rivals in the title chase.

April 17
6 Hours of Silverstone

4th

12h00

“Management of our rain tyres made the car’s handling a little hard to predict. The result wasn’t what we had been hoping for, but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing to get the ball rolling. It meant we kept our feet on the ground.”

16h44

Philippe Sinault looked to the heavens as poor weather made the year’s opening round at Silverstone a complex exercise, with snow forcing the teams to fit rain tyres considering the conditions. The team tired to adapt its strategy to accommodate the circumstances but were unable to maximise the cars’ performance and had to settle for a frustrating fourth place.

18h02

Track length:

5.901km

Top speed:

285kph

Number of laps completed:

177

May 7
6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps

1st

14h30

“Nicolas had the bit between his teeth. He clinched the win with a truly memorable passing manoeuvre.
It was close and could have ended in tears, but he pulled it off. In addition to having the speed, Nicolas is a quick thinker and takes great snap decisions.”

20h22

With 10 minutes of the breath-taking clash at Spa-Francorchamps remaining, Nicolas Lapierre needed to pit for one last ‘splash-and-dash’ fuel stop. It cost him the lead but he was given the green light to do his utmost to find a way past Derani. Taking the Brazilian around the outside at the last moment was arguably the most daring move of the year, but it paid off!

20h32

Track length:

7.004km

Top speed:

312.5kph

Number of laps completed:

151

 

 

June 18-19
Le Mans 24 Hours

1st

15h00

“A huge occasion and a perfect race in front of 260,000 spectators which ended in victory at legendary Le Mans to celebrate my 50th birthday. It was a stressful weekend, though. We couldn’t relax until the finish but I think we handled the situation masterfully.”

02h01

It’s difficult to imagine a more emotional roller-coaster for the team than Le Mans 2016, including two unscheduled pit stops for the N°36. For the drivers, the sensation of attacking the night contrasted with the non-stop tension and the disappointment of Nelson Panciatici’s collision with a wall at sunrise. In the end, Toyota lost out on LMP1 victory with one lap to go, but there was LMP2 glory for the N°36 Alpine.

15h00

Track length:

13.629km

Top speed:

309kph

Number of laps completed:

357

July 24
6 Hours of Nürburgring

1st

13h00

“It could have been so easy for us to take our eye off the ball after Le Mans, but we stayed focused for the visit to the tight and twisty Nürburgring race course.
That’s when we started to believe we were in with a shoutof winning for the title.

17h09

Nicolas Lapierre recorded a clinical masterclass performance around the tight turns of the infamous Green Hell to lay the foundations for an Alpine victory at the German temple of sports car racing.

19h02

Track length:

5.148km

Top speed:

259kph

Number of laps completed:

178

September 3
6 Hours of Mexico

2nd

13h30

“Mexico was a new addition to the championship this year and discovering a new venue is always exciting.
The high-altitude track is superb and the infield even incorporates a baseball stadium, but the surface is very bumpy. We raced well and came close to winning.”

17h24

The Mexico City grandstands provided a colourful, vibrant background to the action but, at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres, making the most of the rarefied air was a key performance indicator for the drivers and cars alike. The N°36 car took a 30-second penalty while leading and, despite his best efforts to recover the deficit, Nicolas Lapierre could only finish 1.985 seconds shy of the win after six hours of racing…

 

19h31

Track length:

4.304km

Top speed:

259.7kph

Number of laps completed:

210

September 17
6 Hours of Austin

1st

17h00

“We had a great race at Austin, despite the heat which made it physically draining. Under no pressure, our drivers performed superbly and Gustavo was rewarded with a win on home soil!”

20h07

It can be unbearably hot at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas in September, turning the cockpits into saunas, taking a punishing toll on the crews and placing the emphasis very much on the notion of endurance.
The drivers of the N°36 car kept their cool, however, to secure another victory.

23h01

Track length:

5.153km

Top speed:

272.6kph

Number of laps completed:

17

October 16.
6 Hours of Fuji

3rd

11h00

“Gustavo was the main revelation of this year’s championship. He’s like a character from a cartoon strip, always good-humoured and constantly bubbling with enthusiasm. The positive vibes he brings to the table are a real asset to the team.”

14h17

After failing to make a mark in free practice, Signatech-Alpine decided to focus on frugal fuel consumption and careful tyre management in an attempt to make one less pit stop than its opponents in its bid for a podium finish. Leaving his braking as late as physically possible, he drifted wide at one point, bouncing off the rubbing strip to bring the car back into line. In addition to keeping the spectators entertained, he took the chequered flag and finished in third place.

17h01

Track length:

4.563km

Top speed:

283.1kph

Number of laps completed:

223

November 6
6 Hours of Shanghai

4th

11h00

“Nicolas Lapierre wanted to overtake at the end to get a podium finish, but we instructed him to hold position in order to spare the engine and secure the title.
He did as he was instructed as he knew what our main objective was.”

14h25

Signatech-Alpine arrived in Shanghai with a 35-point lead in the championship. Consequently, the strategy placed emphasis on caution and focus. The drivers understood the stakes and, putting their personal ambitions on hold, came together as a team to produce a perfectly-paced race.

17h01

Track length:

5.451km

Top speed:

271.3kph

Number of laps completed:

179

November 19
6 Hours of Bahrain

3rd

16h00

“We wanted to wrap up the season in style but Nicolas reported a mechanical problem: the dampers perhaps, or the differential. We weren’t sure, but that didn’t stop us from finishing on the podium.”

18h34

The N°36 car started from pole position and the team wanted to celebrate the end of its title-winning campaign. It got away to a flying start but a mystery hick-up suddenly saw it lose a chunk of time. The engineer’s reassuring words over the radio helped to get the car safely back to its pits. Signatech-Alpine’s team management coolly re-evaluated the situation and came up with a Plan-B strategy that ensured podium honours!

22h00

Track length:

5.412km

Top speed:

280.5kph

Number of laps completed:

183