The FIA World Endurance Championship concludes its 2019-2020 season this week at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The Signatech Alpine Elf team will race for the last time in LMP2 ahead of its LMP1 debut next year.
André Negrão, Thomas Laurent and Pierre Ragues will give it their all to let the Alpine A470 finish its career in style.
The 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship began in September 2019 and will conclude in Sakhir with a season-finale full of emotions as the Signatech Alpine Elf team competes in its final race in LMP2 before moving up to the LMP1 headliner category under the Alpine Endurance Team banner in 2021.
This eighth round on the calendar will thus herald the end of the LMP2 adventure that began on March 8, 2013 and led to two European Le Mans Series titles (2013, 2014), two FIA WEC crowns (2016, 2018-2019) and three victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2016, 2018 and 2019).
While the Philippe Sinault led team has often had success slip through their fingers this season, they will really want to finish strong and make their mark one last time before focusing all their attention on the LMP1 project.
Dreaded for its tricky track surface with the sand surrounding the circuit, the Bahraini track will however evoke fond memories. In 2015, they took their first pole position in the FIA World Endurance Championship there before doing it again and finishing on the podium a year later, followed by a third consecutive pole position in 2017.
In this season's first stop in the Arabian Gulf last December, the Signatech Alpine Elf team also showed resilience by finishing into the top five in their category despite a mistake in qualifying cost them of a set of tyres for the race.
On the strength of this character-building experience, André Negrão, Thomas Laurent and Pierre Ragues will have bigger ambitions to achieve a result that lives up to their true potential and in line with their undeniable speed as they once again proved it in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
All three drivers will thus be eager to take the team to the top of the podium and extend the winning streak of the n°36 Alpine, which has won at least one race every season since its return to competition in 2013. Currently in sixth place, just thirteen points from third place, Les Bleus could also climb into the top three of the LMP2 Endurance Trophy as thirty-nine points will be up for grabs.
24 crews will line up for the start of the 8 Hours of Bahrain, including six in the LMP2 category. Starting early Saturday afternoon, the race in the land of a thousand and one nights will finish under the lights and pave the way for future dreams in blue.
Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Elf Team principal
"The team has been very busy since its arrival on Monday. We picked up the car practically in its Le Mans form as the freight had left shortly after the 24 Hours in late September. We had two and a half days of intense work to service it and prepare this finale as best we can. Of course, our aim is to finish this year in style with our terrific line-up of drivers, but also our LMP2 adventure. We haven't been able to convert our level of performance shown since Austin. In Austin, Spa and Le Mans, the podium was within our grasp, but we were unlucky. However, we have proved that we can be up front on a regular basis and we will be keen to prove it. The conditions are likely to be warmer than during our previous visit to Bahrain last December, but we know this track very well. We will have to adapt to its specificities with rear tyres that are pushed to their limits by the long reacceleration phases, the important variations of track temperatures between day and night and the sand that can cut the rubber. These themes will be crucial and we will be focusing on the FP1 and FP3 in more representative conditions to best prepare for qualifying and the race. In the very particular context of this finale, it is quite possible that an LMP2 car could reach the overall podium on merit. It's up to us to do everything we can to make sure it is the Alpine A470! “
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 12
17h30-19h00: Free-practice 1
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 13
7h00-8h30: Free-practice 2
11h45-12h45: Free-practice 3
16h30-16h50: Qualifying LMP1 & LMP2
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 14
12h00: Start of the 8 Hours of Bahrain