From third on the grid, the No.36 Alpine A480 returned to the top step of the podium after an intense strategic battle in which the team demonstrated its operational excellence.
Thanks to their second triumph of 2022, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere increase their lead in the general classification before the next race at Fuji (11 September).
This weekend the FIA World Endurance Championship kicked off the second half of its season with 38 cars entered at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza (Italy).
On Friday, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere were back in action on the Italian track. After three productive practice sessions in the sweltering heat, Nicolas Lapierre was charged with qualifying the Alpine A480. The Frenchman immediately put the A-arrowed brand's prototype second on the provisional grid, but a red flag caused by the stoppage of the No. 94 Peugeot forced him to settle for P3.
At midday on Sunday, Matthieu Vaxiviere was behind the wheel for the start of the 6 Hours of Monza. The No. 36 made an excellent getaway and entered a battle with both Toyotas, resisting the No. 7 before a nice overtake on the No. 8 on lap three. A strategic war quickly ensued in the wake of the first race incidents. Capitalising on its operational excellence, the team made its first pit stop during the second full course yellow before Matthieu Vaxiviere repassed the two Toyotas in traffic.
When André Negrão took over, the Brazilian did his part, allowing the strategy to continue. Despite a minor mistake with no consequences at the Ascari chicane, André Negrão remained firmly in the fight at the sharp end of the order during his double stint before Nicolas Lapierre got in the car at half-distance. The Frenchman continued the duel with the No. 8 Toyota, only a few seconds behind the leader. Once again, Les Bleus demonstrated their determination to retake the lead with just over two hours remaining.
Thirty minutes later, Matthieu Vaxiviere was back behind the wheel in a leading trio covered by less than 15 seconds. The Frenchman quickly closed the gap to the No. 8 Toyota, which he passed on the outside of the Parabolica after three heart-stopping laps. After that, the tension increased a notch when he took the fight to the No. 7 Toyota, which made contact with him on the start-finish straight.
The Alpine A480 escaped unscathed to take the race lead for good. From there, Matthieu Vaxiviere gradually increased his advantage to five seconds before his final pit stop. In the tension-filled waning minutes, Matthieu Vaxiviere was the first to see the chequered flag with a margin of victory of just under three seconds over his rival.
With two wins from the first four rounds of the season, Alpine Elf Endurance Team has consolidated its lead in the general classification. On Wednesday, the Alpine A480 will be sea-freighted to Fuji. After a three-year absence from the calendar, the Japanese track will host the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship on September, Sunday 11th.
"It was a brilliant race, both inside and outside the cockpit. It wasn't easy to get the better of the Toyotas as our cars are so technically different, but we used all our strengths to achieve our goal. We had to do our best here as the next meeting will take place in Toyota's backyard, and we did and are already looking forward to the challenge ahead at Fuji."
"It is awesome to win at Monza to bounce back after our difficult week at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I think the fans enjoyed the show today, and I'm so pleased with the win. We still lead the championship. We scored some valuable points prior to the last two races on the calendar, but there is still very little in it."
"What a race and what a battle! I had a lot of fun today, with many exciting battles between all the Hypercars running within the same second. That's what we like most about being drivers, but also for the spectators. This is very much a team victory with everyone working perfectly together on strategy, pit stops and driving."
Philippe Sinault, Team Principal Alpine Elf Endurance Team
"The 6 Hours of Monza reminds us of everything we love about motorsport and why we do it. I'm so proud we played a big part in the show today. It was going to be a challenging race as the technical specifications of our prototypes are very different. We knew it would be difficult to overtake our rivals on the straights, so we worked hard on all aspects of strategy: undercuts, full course yellow, tyre management and fuel consumption. We achieved this result step by step from our first laps on Friday. The entire team got its act together after Le Mans to put in a flawless performance, as did the drivers with some incredible, even magical moves. All of us can be very proud of this superb victory today!"
2022 6 Hours of Monza
1. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°36 194 laps
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing n°8 +2.762s
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing n°7 + 2 laps
4. Realteam by WRT n°41 + 6 laps
5. JOTA n°38 + 6 laps
FIA World Endurance Championship Hypercar
1. Lapierre – Negrão – Vaxiviere – 106 points
2. Buemi – Hartley – Hirakawa – 96 points
3. Conway – Kobayashi – Lopez – 76 points
4. Dumas – Pla – 70 points
5. Derani - 47 points
1. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 121 points
2. Alpine Elf Endurance Team – 106 points
3. Glickenhaus Racing – 70 points
4. Peugeot TotalEnergies – 12 points