Alpine still in contention for the title as Peugeot improves in WEC!
Fuji, Japan, September 13th - Championships are also won by managing to pick up points when victory is out of reach.
Such was the strategy successfully adopted by the Alpine Elf Endurance Team in Fuji at Toyota’s home track, round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Unable to compete with the Japanese prototypes, the French team showed exemplary consistency to claim third place in the Land of the Rising Sun, with the Alpine A480 driven by André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere. “Realistically, the result in Fuji is in line with our expectations,” analysed Philippe Sinault, Team Principal. “The aim was to finish on the podium and be able to fight for the title in Bahrain and that’s what we’ll be doing. We hit our target. If, at the start of the year, someone had offered us two race wins and the chance to challenge for the Drivers' title at the last round, I think we’d have grabbed that with both hands. I really hope we will be able to fight for the Drivers' title in Bahrain. We’ll be leaving it all out on the track, in any case.”
The other source of satisfaction from the weekend stemmed from the further improved performance level of the Peugeot TotalEnergies team and its 9x8. The two cars deservedly made it to the end of the race, the no.93 car (Di Resta-Vergne-Jensen) finishing just shy of the podium whilst the no.94 car (Rossiter-Duval-Menezes) finished in 20th place. Had it not been for a leak in the engine system that needed a twenty-minute pit stop, the second car may have been able to challenge for a podium place. “These 6 Hours of Fuji show the huge progress made by the team, the mechanics and the engineers since Monza,” commented a delighted Olivier Jansonnie, Technical Director of Peugeot Sport. “We managed to fix the reliability issues that we had at our first race. The vast majority of the weekend – Friday, Saturday and the first two hours of racing – in Fuji went well, with no problems. If we make the same level of progress for Bahrain, that would be really positive. During the first stints, we had good pace. We’re now going to be able to focus on improving performance. We had an issue, quite similar it would appear, on both cars. We’ll need to look in more detail at the handling of the car and the use of the tyres. On each track, we’re getting to grips with new things and learning!” All of which augurs well for the future.
Thanks to another podium finish, the Alpine Elf Endurance Team’s three drivers – Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and André Negrão – are now tied with the Toyota no.8 car drivers, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa and Sébastien Buemi, who won against the backdrop of the famous Japanese volcano. In the manufacturers’ standings, Alpine keep up the pressure on leaders Toyota. The titles will be decided at the final round of the FIA WEC season in Bahrain, on 12 November.