• The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) visits Germany for the first time with this weekend’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring.• Alpine returns to the venue where it claimed its first-ever endurance racing victory 50 years ago.• The Alpine A450b entered in the 2015 FIA WEC will be shared by Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Vincent Capillaire. Following a first half of the season keenly focused on Le Mans, Signatech-Alpine looks forward to a fresh start at Round 4 of the eight-round FIA World Endurance Championship. The German fixture will take the Alpine A450b to the legendary Nürburgring, a circuit that played a major role in the brand’s early history.
In 1963, the all-new M63 prototype made its competition debut at the Nürburgring 1000 kilometres where the Franco-American pairing José Rosinksi and Lloyd Casner secured its first class win. Two years later, at the Nürburgring 500km, on September 5, 1965, Lucien and Mauro Bianchi and their M65 earned Alpine’s first-ever outright win.
This year, the N°36 Alpine A450b LM P2 prototype will be in action 50 years after that historic feat. With a chassis completely rebuilt over the summer, Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Vincent Capillaire are aiming for a strong result before beginning a world tour that will take them to the United States, then Asia for the final four races of the 2015 championship.
A field of 31 cars will line up for the start of the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring, with eight in the LM P2 category. Signatech-Alpine is the only all-French squad on the entry list.
Says Philippe Sinault (Team Principal Signatech-Alpine): “It’s been a long time since the Le Mans 24 Hours, but we’ve made the most of the break to rebuild our Alpine A450b. The Alpine brand has very important ties with the Nürburgring. We are heading there with a little bit of emotion and a great deal of motivation. It’s the last European round of year, but we still haven’t reached the mid-way point of the championship. We will have many other opportunities to shine before the end of the season. The objective for us is to battle for a podium finish at what is a highly demanding circuit for tyres. The weather could play a big role, and coping efficiently with the traffic could also be a decisive factor.”
Nelson Panciatici: “I am really looking forward to the beginning of the second half of the season. I know the Nürburgring very well having raced there in so many categories. It will be new in the Alpine A450b, of course, but I felt really good on the Ellip6 simulator. The team did a great job this summer and our driver line-up is very consistent. We will see how we compare during practice. A podium finish would do everyone a lot of good.”
Paul-Loup Chatin: “I’ve finished on the podium at the Nürburgring in single-seater racing and I can’t wait to drive the Alpine A450b there. We’ll have to find our marks early on to aim for a good result. I am confident the team will find a strong set-up for the race. Careful tyre management will be important and I would love to finish on the podium.”
Vincent Capillaire: “I feel in great shape! I’m really looking forward to discovering this track. For me, returning to action is like starting a new season. At Le Mans, we showed that we were very fast. I am very comfortable in the Alpine A450b and I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel. My objective will be to find the same feeling I had at Le Mans as quickly as possible. It will be up to us to make the most of the opportunities that arise to claim a podium result.”
Timetable (GMT+1)12:00 noon, Friday, August 28: Free Practice 1 (90 minutes)4:30pm, Friday, August 28: Free Practice 2 (90 minutes)9:30am, Saturday, August 29: Free Practice 3 (60 minutes)2:30pm, Saturday, August 29: LMP Qualifying (20 minutes)1:00pm, Sunday, August 30: 6 Hours of Nürburgring