After fighting up at the sharp end from lights-out to chequered flag, the Signatech-Alpine squad finished third in the LMP2 class in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours.
In the overall classification, the Alpine A450b – crewed by Paul-Loup Chatin, Nelson Panciatici and Oliver Webb – placed an excellent seventh.This sporting success was crowned by the Jean Rondeau Prize for Paul-Loup Chatin.Nelson Panciatici wound up with the fastest LMP2 class lap time of the race at 3:37.787 on the crew’s 326nd lap out of 355.
Since the beginning of its second season in endurance racing – a key element of the renaissance of the Alpine brand – no secret had been made of the burning desire to reach the podium in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
After an initial year of learning, the team led by Philippe Sinault has accomplished its objective.At the wheel of an Alpine A450b that was competitive throughout the race, Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Oliver Webb made not so much as the slightest error to cross the finish line an outstanding seventh overall at La Sarthe, in so doing annexing a rostrum finish in the LMP2 class.
The team was forced to make just two unscheduled pit-stops. Although both were perfectly managed by the technical crew, the precious seconds lost prevented Alpine from dreaming of an even greater achievement during the race’s closing stages.
Bernard Ollivier, Alpine Director: “When you consider that making it to the end of the Le Mans 24 Hours is already a victory in itself, to finish on the podium in our class and seventh overall underscores the quality of this team. Aside from the historic triumph for the Renault Alpine A442B driven by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi in the 1978 race, this is the best result for an Alpine in the Le Mans 24 Hours. I need to pay tribute to the performance of all three drivers, the technical squad and the strategy that was implemented. This is a team that was built to win!”
Philippe Sinault, Team Principal: “What a battle all the way through the 24 hours! This is a fantastic result for the entire team, and I would like to dedicate it to all those who are working so hard alongside us to make projects like this possible. Last year, we marked Alpine’s return to Le Mans and 12 months on, we are celebrating Alpine’s return to the podium in the race! Above all, we proved that we had the capacity to win.”
Paul-Loup Chatin: “We can be very satisfied with this podium finish in LMP2, even if we had admittedly wanted even more. This is the realisation of all the hard work carried out by the whole team. This is Le Mans – it’s legendary! Our Alpine A450b was consistently amongst the most competitive cars in the class, and I am happy with the rhythm I was able to establish. I truly felt comfortable throughout my first participation here.”
Nelson Panciatici: “This is my first podium in the Le Mans 24 Hours from three starts. We were able to demonstrate our speed race-long. During my final stint in the car, I was given the green light to push flat-out and I really enjoyed myself. I disassociated myself from the inevitable pressure at Le Mans to embark upon a race within a race for three hours! This result is a fitting reward for the entire team, and I must also congratulate my two team-mates who were competing in this gruelling event for the first time. We succeeded in getting the very best out of each other.”
Oliver Webb: “It’s incredible to finish on the podium at my first attempt in the Le Mans 24 Hours. It was a tough race with numerous twists-and-turns – truly the greatest race in the world! The Alpine A450b was remarkably consistent all the way through and the team was the very epitome of professionalism. To ascend the rostrum at the end of the Le Mans 24 Hours is a fantastic way to begin a career in endurance racing!”