The Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team will debut in the Hypercar category with the n°36 Alpine A480.
Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere will defend the Alpine colours in the six-round calendar and the most important race of the year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Alpine has won two European titles, two world crowns and three LMP2 victories at Le Mans since its return to endurance racing. Alpine continues this commitment at the pinnacle of motor racing in 2021 in taking on the challenge of the FIA WEC Hypercar category in parallel with its Formula 1 debut.
Born from competition for competition, Alpine approaches this project with humility but also with the desire to create a surprise. After a winter of preparation, Alpine will field the Alpine A480, a car based on an Oreca chassis, powered by a 4.5-litre V8 supplied by Gibson Technology and shod on Michelin tyres, as per the Hypercar category regulations.
Named after the Alpine cars that competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours in the 1970s and since 2013, the prototype will be put to the test in its first race appearance as the season kicks off at Circuit Spa-Francorchamps. The emblematic Belgian track is one of the most demanding and appreciated on the planet, with its elevation changes and technical corners emphasizing a clean driving style and accurate setup… Not to mention its unpredictable weather conditions, ranging from summer-like heat to snowfall!
Alpine scored its first points in the FIA WEC in 2015 with the A450b at this track. Twelve months later, the Alpine A460 won for the first time on Belgian soil in a campaign that ended with its first world title. The Alpine A470, which appeared in 2017, also enjoyed success at Spa with a pole position and two second-place finishes that were crucial in reclaiming the LMP2 crown.
While the Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team is no stranger to the season-opener host, the team still needs to perfect its knowledge of its new car, the A480. To achieve this and to reach the highest possible result on its return to the top-flight category, Alpine can count on the invaluable experience of its race team and its formidable driver line-up with Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere.
From the start of the Prologue, the three drivers and the Philippe Sinault-led team will focus on finding the best setup and compromises for the Alpine A480 on this circuit. After a Wednesday devoted to the meticulous analysis of the data collected during the two days of testing, the trio will take to the track again on Thursday for the first of three free practice sessions before qualifying on Friday in the early evening.
Nearly 60 years after the Alpine M63 made its debut in the world of endurance racing, the Alpine A480 will compete against 34 other cars on Saturday, May 1st. The Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will start at 13h30.
Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team Principal
"We are all extremely proud to be making our debut in the premier class thanks to the trust Alpine has placed in us for this project. The whole team is ready and we can't wait to really start the season. Of course, there are still many questions to be answered, but there is also a lot of enthusiasm. We have worked closely with the FIA and the ACO to establish a performance window. The balance of performance exercise is never easy and it will be the key to the success of the championship this year. We accept that adjustments can be made at any time, but this first meeting will allow all the competitors to establish an initial hierarchy at the end of the two-day Prologue. In these circumstances, it is good to start the season at a familiar circuit, but there are few as challenging as Spa. Moreover, our main tool is so different from anything we have experienced to date. We are starting from scratch or nearly. Lastly, the weather will be, as always, an essential element here. A large part of our programme will be taking the measure of our new technical architecture in the broadest sense, and then the circuit, whilst managing the evolution of the conditions for the week. In any case, we are ready for the challenge and we look forward to it!"