Alpine finish as FIA World Endurance Championship runners-up!
Sakhir, Bahrain, November 16th – Unrivalled determination and a decidedly combative attitude. These qualities have been consistently shown by every member of the Alpine Elf Endurance Team throughout the 2022 FIA WEC season. And they were on display one final time this season at the 8 Hours of Bahrain, venue for the last round of the year, despite Toyota’s clear superiority.
The French squad, led as ever by its trio of drivers, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Mathieu Vaxivière, claimed a fine third place to sign off the season in style and conclude the two year-period that has seen Alpine Elf Endurance Team return to the top of the category with the A480. Two years during which some impressive results were recorded: two pole positions, two race wins (1000 miles of Sebring and 6 Hours of Monza, both in 2022) and eleven podium finishes, including a superbly-fought third place overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2021, from twelve starts. Results that have led to the deserved honour of finishing as runner-up in the teams’ and drivers’ standings. “There was a sense of inevitability about the outcome this weekend, although we feel a bit disappointed that the fight we were all hoping for never really materialised,” analysed Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance Team Principal in his assessment of the race. “We quickly realised that we were going to have problems with the traffic. We tried to manage as best we could, and both the drivers and the team once again had a flawless race. We have to enjoy this moment. We can't be too disappointed at the end of this season, having claimed two race wins and five podiums, as well as having had incredible reliability and made no real mistakes. This two-year journey has created positive momentum for our project and that suggests that are some fantastic opportunities ahead for us with the full commitment of the Alpine brand. All of which makes us want the next challenge even more!”
The future was also in the minds of Team Peugeot TotalEnergies at Sakhir, where the Peugeot 9X8 was making its third and final competitive appearance in this year of learning. The weekend presented with French squad with a long list of new challenges: an abrasive track surface expected to be hard on tyres, very high track temperatures, a race lasting eight hours – partly contested at night – and Nico Müller added to the line-up for car no. 94 alongside Loïc Duval and Gustavo Menezes. However, Peugeot’s cars made a promising start, topping the timesheets in free practice before securing a place on the front row in qualifying for car no. 93, driven by Paul Di Resta, whilst the no. 94, driven by Gustavo Menezes, qualified on the second row. Sadly, reliability issues prevented the crews from performing to their full potential in the race. The no.94 Peugeot 9X8 nonetheless crossed the finishing line in fourth place and the no. 93 car, which started on the front row, set the fastest race lap. “We are very pleased to have taken part in these three races, all three completely different from one another as well,” concluded Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport Technical Director. “In Monza, we were experiencing everything for the first time and the race was tough for the team. We had to learn about the category and how a racing weekend works at the same time. In Fuji, we had already stepped it up a level. Our practice sessions were smoother but we lacked a bit of pace. Here, in Bahrain, our pace was much better. And we showed it at the start of the race. We decided to adopt different tyre strategies on the two cars in order to hold onto a chance of closing on the leaders at the end. Unfortunately, some reliability issues prevented us from making the most of this approach. It’s frustrating, especially for our team and our drivers, who did a great job. They showed incredible commitment, even when there was no longer anything at stake in the race. I think that’s worth highlighting. We know we have work to do. Sebring will be here before you know it!”
Although victory at the final race went to the Toyota GR010 HYBRID of Conway – Kobayashi – Lopez, it was the crew of the sister car (Buemi – Hartley – Hirakawa) that claimed the world championship, whilst Toyota secured the manufacturers’ title. Alpine can nonetheless be proud of its achievements, with five podiums this year, including two race wins. The brand and its drivers, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Mathieu Vaxivière, finish as runners-up in the 2022 FIA WEC. A result that means the team can look forward to the switch to Hypercar (LMDh) in 2024 with ambition, after spending the 2023 season in transition in the LMP2 class.