Eight weeks after the 6 Hours of Silverstone, the FIA World Endurance Championship begins its Asian swing in Japan.
The Signatech Alpine Matmut team will try to keep its streak of podium results going to extend its lead in the LMP2 category.
Officially the winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the n°36 Alpine A470 will be once again driven by Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and André Negrão at Fuji.
After the first European stint, the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC heads to Asia and more specifically Japan.
Located some 100 kilometres from Tokyo with Mount Fuji in the background, the Fuji Speedway is a genuine endurance racing monument in the Far East. The 4.563km circuit is best known for its 1.5km long straight leading to a section of high-speed corners and followed by two tighter sectors.
Finding a compromise between aerodynamic efficiency and the search for grip will be a real challenge for the Signatech Alpine Matmut team… While the autumn rainy season will also be a factor!
On the podium at every round since the start of its campaign and winner of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, the n°36 Alpine currently leads the LMP2 category by four points.
The well-oiled trio of Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet intend to keep the momentum going and capitalize on the work carried out by the engineers and mechanics to match the success at a track where the French squad has triumphed in the past. 40 years ago, the Alpine A441 won the Fuji 500km before the A450b and A470 Alpines finished on the podium every year since 2015.
The FIA WEC field will be on track Friday with two free-practice sessions. There will be a third session Saturday morning before qualifying at 07:30 in Europe. The 6 Hours of Fuji will start at 11:00 local time (GMT+9), 04:00 (CET+1).
Philippe Sinault, Team principal Signatech Alpine Matmut
“The pace of the Super Season allows us the time to prepare properly for each round. As the cars headed to Japan in the aftermath of Silverstone, we were able to focus on strategy and work with our drivers in the Ellip6 simulator. Despite the very long straight, the need for efficient traction at the exit of the tight corners is among the circuit’s particularities. Weather always plays an important role. This is the rainy season and typhoons are common as was the case last year, and the forecast is not very optimistic. We were particularly successful in these conditions in 2017. We led for two-thirds of the race and were the fastest on track. We went on to finish second, pitting just before the red flag. We have always been competitive at Fuji. This is also where we scored our first podium in the FIA WEC in 2015. The news confirming our 24 Hours of Le Mans win galvanised us even more after our strong start to the season, which includes three top three results in as many races. Even if it doesn’t affect the championship standings, the team is already on site and hungry for more!”
Régis Fricotté, Alpine Sales and Competition Director
“40 years after the triumph of Masahira Hasemi and Kazuyoshi Hoshino behind the wheel of an Alpine A441 at Fuji, we are delighted to return to Japan just as the first A110s are ready to be delivered to the Japanese archipelago. Since the official launch in June at the French Embassy, the excitement surrounding our return has been very promising in this market of enthusiasts who are very aware of the Alpine A110's qualities. More than a thousand people took part in a drawing to reserve one of the fifty First Editions allocated to the Japanese market. The Fuji meeting gives us the opportunity to keep this fine start going via an event where customers, potential future buyers and the media will come together at the Fuji circuit to take in our competition activity. We hope to extend their welcome, which has proven to be a good indicator, for the launch of the Pure and Legend versions through our network of fourteen dealers."
FRIDAY OCTOBER 12
2:00: free practice 1 (90 minutes)
6:30: free practice 2 (90 minutes)
SATURDAY OCTOBER 13
0:30: free practice 3 (60 minutes)
5:30: qualifying LMP1 / LMP2 (20 minutes)
SUNDAY OCTOBER 14
2:00: 6 Hours of Fuji