Sixty years after its first 24 Hours of Le Mans entry, Alpine returns to the Sarthe for the most prestigious race on the FIA World Endurance Championship calendar.
The A-arrow brand will contest the legendary race for the 21st time in its history - the 11th in a row - with two A470s in the LMP2 category.
This week's Scrutineering and Test Day will be the opening highlights of the season's crown jewel event, before plenty of surprises in store from the Alpine teams.
First held in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans event celebrates its centenary this year. Forty years later, Alpine debuted in this iconic race with three M63 prototypes. Sixty years on, the French constructor will once again be at the heart of an event that promises to be unforgettable in the history of motorsport.
While preparing its return to the premier class next year with its future Hypercar designed in collaboration with Oreca, Alpine Elf Endurance Team returns to the twice-around-the-clock classic in LMP2, where it won in 2016, 2018 and 2019. Before taking to the track on Sunday for the Test Day, all the crews must attend the Scrutineering to kick off the longest, most challenging and most spectacular race of the year.
Although it has been a challenging start to the season for Les Bleus, they can draw on their rich history on the showpiece of the calendar to set their sights on new heights. Since the previous meeting at Spa-Francorchamps, the team has tested at Monza to get a feel for the high speeds that await them at Le Mans. Philippe Sinault's men and women have also carried out a complete overhaul of their two Alpine A470s, meticulously preparing the spare parts to meet the challenge of this demanding race on the bodies and machineries.
Following a brief shakedown last Friday at Lurcy-Lévis, Alpine Elf Endurance Team has set up its base camp in the Sarthe region for the next ten days to prepare for the race. The team will be summoned on Friday at 5 pm for the Scrutineering, where the #35 and #36 A470s and all the crews' equipment will be thoroughly checked by the FIA and ACO stewards.
Sunday's Test Day will consist of two three-hour practice sessions. André Negrão, Memo Rojas, Olli Caldwell, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Charles Milesi and Julien Canal will use the two sessions to get to grips with the 13.626 km long Circuit de la Sarthe. The trios will take turns to fine-tune their set-up, perfect their pit-stops and carry out a traditional programme to evaluate the tyre compounds available.
With three wins in the LMP2 category in the 24 Hours of Le Mans to its credit, Alpine Elf Endurance Team has only one mandatory step to do: allow Olli Caldwell to complete his rookie ritual. After several sessions in the Aotech simulator to review different safety scenarios, the Briton will have to complete ten daytime and five nighttime laps to be allowed to compete in the race. To achieve this, he can count on the team's savoir-faire and the experience of his teammates, three of whom (André Negrão, Charles Milesi and Julien Canal) have already won at Le Mans.
Next week the pace of preparations will accelerate from the first free practice session scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 4 pm on Saturday, 10 June. Sixty-two cars, including 24 in the LMP2 class, will be on the grid for the final kick-off of hostilities at the end of an eventful fortnight for Alpine and the world of endurance racing.
Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance Team Principal
"The centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be paced by many events, emotions and highlights reaffirming Alpine's love of Endurance racing, sixty years after the brand's first entry and ten years after its return. This triple anniversary reminds us of how far we've come with its successes, unforgettable memories and the trusting relationship between Alpine and Signatech. Preparing for this legendary motorsport event is always intense, requiring a huge commitment from everyone in an extremely compressed period of time. Following the previous race at Spa, we had a very useful test at Monza. The team really got to grips with some areas before conducting a complete overhaul of our two prototypes before a shakedown with Olli and Charles last week at Lurcy-Lévis. After the Scrutineering on Friday, we'll move on to the Test Day, which is so important as it starts the most crucial eight days of the year for all of us. This dress rehearsal allows us to see where we stand compared to our pre-determined set-ups based on our experience, engineers and simulations. There will be less track time this year, so we'll have to make choices and spread the work sessions of our busy programme between our two cars. Everyone is fully mobilised, in working order and aware of the importance of this race. We are ready and raring to go for this event, which is always full of uncertainties, and where humility is the most valuable asset."
Sunday 4 June
10:00am-1:00pm: Test Day
3:30-6:30 pm: Test Day
Wednesday 7 June
2:00-5:00pm: Free practice 1
10:00pm-12:00am: Free practice 2
Thursday 8 June
3:00-6:00pm: Free practice 3
10:00-11:00pm: Free practice 4
Saturday 10 June
4:00pm: Start of the 91st edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans