Alpine hits the heights again in WEC !
Monza, Italy, July 11th - Round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship was held at the Autodromo Nazionale de Monza, in Italy.
A circuit more commonly known in racing circles as the Temple of Speed. The iconic racetrack provided not only the high average speeds for which it is famous, but also a fascinating contest. After the disappointment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Alpine Elf Endurance Team was determined to get back to a position more in keeping with its true performance level. In claiming outright victory again – their second success of the season after winning Stateside at the start of the year at the 1000 miles of Sebring – Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxivière and André Negrão, the Alpine A480’s three drivers, produced more than just a reaction. And yet it was a tight, bitterly-fought race with Toyota, until Matthieu Vaxivière found a way past. The two prototypes clashed during the move, resulting in Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi being handed a stop-and-go penalty for his overly aggressive defence. Although the other Toyota prototype continued to apply the pressure until the end of the race, the Alpine Elf Endurance Team car held firm to take the chequered flag first, a little under three seconds ahead of its rival. A winning margin that reflected both the closeness of the contest and the ability of the team to bounce back.
This round of FIA WEC also saw the official debut of the Peugeot TotalEnergies Team and its Peugeot 9X8 hybrid Hypercar, after some 15,000 kilometres of private testing. The performance level shown by Peugeot’s new beast in free practice was clearly one of the positives from the weekend. The race itself witnessed a few inevitable teething problems, but these difficulties did not prevent the no. 94 car, driven by Loïc Duval, James Rossiter and Gustavo Menezes, from making it to the finish, gathering crucial information for future events. “These six hours of racing were tough,” analysed Olivier Jansonnie, Peugeot Sport Technical Director. “We came here to learn and that’s precisely what we have done. We had a number of problems in the race, which are impossible to simulate in testing but we are pleased by the potential of our car, which showed that it has a good performance level in free practice and in certain phases of the race. We were on the pace but we are aware that there are some areas where we need to improve. We have some test sessions scheduled for the next few weeks that will help us to fix the issues so we can be ready for Fuji.” The championship contenders can now take a well-earned break over the summer. They will return to action at the 6 Hours of Fuji, in Japan on 11 September, but you can be sure that for many of them, the holidays will also be productive, and decidedly studious.
With this second win, Alpine Elf Endurance Team’s three drivers – Matthieu Vaxivière, Nicolas Lapierre and André Negrão – extend their lead in the world championship over the Toyota no.8 drivers Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa and Sébastien Buemi, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans but were only second in Italy. In the manufacturers’ standings, Alpine keep up the pressure on leaders Toyota.