Alpine in the groove at Le Mans

Alpine in the groove at Le Mans

16.06.2016: • The first qualifying session ahead of this weekend’s 84th

•    The first qualifying session ahead of this weekend’s 84th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours took place on a dry track, with both Alpine A460s featuring up at the sharp end.

•    Nelson Panciatici posted the second-quickest LMP2 class lap time behind the wheel of the N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine, half-a-second shy of the provisional pole position.

•    Nicolas Lapierre lapped only five hundredths-of-a-second slower than his team-mate to place the N°36 Signatech-Alpine third on the timesheets.

•    Two further qualifying sessions will take place late on Thursday.

A week-and-a-half after the pre-event Test Day, competitors in this weekend’s 84th Le Mans 24 Hours returned to the track on Wednesday for a four-hour free practice session, followed by the first of three two-hour qualifying sessions.

The practice running was hampered by rain, with regular showers soaking the La Sarthe circuit. Electing not to take any unnecessary risks in the treacherous conditions, the Signatech-Alpine outfit’s two A460s remained largely in the pits when the session was at its wettest.

With one hour left on the clock, Nicolas Lapierre became the first LMP2 class driver to dip beneath the 3m40s barrier, only to be pipped to the fastest time by barely half-a-second just before the chequered flag fell.

Fearing that the rain might return, the entire field immediately went out in search of a quick lap in qualifying but the session was interrupted half-an-hour in, just as Nelson Panciatici had moved up to second position, a scant seven thousandths adrift of the category benchmark.

That put the Baxi DC Racing Alpine one spot ahead of the Signatech-Alpine, which sat third in the hands of Nicolas Lapierre.

The remainder of the session was disrupted by connection issues with the organisers’ data acquisition system. This obliged the two A460s to return to the garage on several occasions, making it impossible for the drivers to settle into a rhythm.

Immediately after he had improved his lap time, Lapierre was forced back to the pits and with no subsequent change in the order, the Alpine A460s wound up second and third in the final reckoning.

Philippe Sinault, Signatech-Alpine Team Principal:
“It’s been a positive opening day, because we are clearly in the hunt for LMP2 honours and our two rookies both qualified to race after each completing the requisite five night-time laps.

Aside from a minor electronic problem that was not directly linked to our cars, we didn’t come across any issues.

Tomorrow, we have two more sessions to complete our preparations and depending on what the weather does, we will either push for pole position or else focus our efforts on perfecting our set-up for a wet track.”


 Nelson Panciatici:
“My best lap was good but far from perfect, because I had to lift off at one stage for yellow flags. I also had to overtake three cars along the way, although not in the most critical parts of the track.

You really need everything to be on your side to secure pole position here – indeed, since I’ve been competing at Le Mans, I honestly think I can count the number of clear laps I’ve had on one hand!

I’m satisfied with the way the car is performing, which proves we have the potential to fight up at the front.”

Nicolas Lapierre:
“It’s been an encouraging first day, even if I would have liked to have had a longer run at the end of the qualifying session to try to set the fastest time.

Our performance is strong, so now we need to reflect on what we can still improve for tomorrow. The weather looks like it could be a bit tricky again, but we saw today that it can change very quickly. It’s shaping up to be a very interesting weekend. ”


LMP2 Classification – Qualifying 1

1. G-Drive N°26 – 3m36.605s

2. Baxi DC Racing Alpine N°35 – 3m37.175s

3. Signatech-Alpine N°36 – 3m37.225s

4. Manor N°44 – 3m38.037s

5. Michael Shank Racing N°49 – 3m38.837s

Christophe Deville, Marie-Hélène Bacle- photos Romain Scholer


16.06.2016 / MaP

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