The 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) season begins this week with the Official Prologue in Sebring, Florida (USA).
For this first event of the year, the Alpine A480 - the A-arrow brand's hypercar - will encounter a new track at Sebring International Raceway.
Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere will provide their experience to the Alpine Elf Endurance Team to tackle the 1000 Miles of Sebring (18 March) in the best conditions.
After a short off-season, the FIA WEC is ready to kick off season ten at Sebring, where the drivers and teams competing at the highest level of endurance racing will be in action at one of motorsport's most famous venues.
Alpine is no stranger to the American circuit, having made its first appearance there in 1964 and scored a podium result in the LMP2 class in 2019. The Alpine Elf Endurance Team will nonetheless have its work cut out for it in the FIA WEC Prologue, which serves as a dress rehearsal. Despite a year of experience in the premier category, the A-arrow brand's #36 Hypercar will make its Sebring debut before round one of the season, the 1000 Miles of Sebring, the following week.
Built on a former military airport, Sebring International Raceway mixes seventeen turns and several straights on the tremendously abrasive and bumpy track between the historic concrete sections and the tarmac portions. Considered one of the keys to the race, this atypical surface is spectacular and, above all, fearsome for the dampers and flat bottoms if the setup is not optimal on the junctions between the track surfaces.
With more than twelve hours of track time spread over four sessions, the team and its trio of drivers will have the task of perfecting their knowledge and finding the best settings and compromises to adapt the A480 to these challenges. The stakes will be even greater as the 1000 Miles of Sebring will offer more points than the six-hour events that make up half the calendar.
Nicolas Lapierre, who won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2011 and 2018, will bring his experience to the team, as will André Negrão, with whom the Frenchman led Alpine to second place in the 1000 Miles of Sebring in 2019. Matthieu Vaxiviere's contribution will also be equally significant, having finished second just over a second behind the winning crew at the 2019 Sebring 12 Hours.
In preparation for the event, the trio got back into the swing of things in the Alpine A480 during private testing at Circuit Paul Ricard last month. Currently on a run of six consecutive podium finishes, including one at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Alpine Elf Endurance Team is determined to launch its new campaign in optimal conditions during the week-long celebration of motorsport, with the 1000 Miles of Sebring sharing the bill with the 12 Hours of Sebring (IMSA).
Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance Team Principal
"Due to its history and reference status in North America, Sebring is always a special race. There is a special flavour to return to the United States with Alpine, a brand that now has an international aura. It is therefore an important event and it will be nice to meet up with our rivals, Toyota and Glickenhaus, in the premier class. The whole team is back on track and has been remotivated since our first tests to face the challenges that await us. Our ambitions remain the same, and we want to spring a surprise. Nicolas, André and Matthieu all have experience at Sebring, a track they like for its characteristics and the atmosphere around the event. As this will be the first time the A480 runs on this demanding track for both the drivers and machines alike, their input will be as crucial as the lessons learned from our previous appearances. We will have to be reliable, starting with the Prologue to adapt our car to the track and the new balance of performance that will be established before the race. This full-scale test will also be an opportunity to confirm the tyre choices we have made for the season. We can't wait for the serious business to begin!"
2022 Official Prologue Schedule
Saturday 12 March
9h35-12h35: Free practice 1
14h25-17h25: Free practice 2
Sunday 13 March
9h50-13h20: Free practice 3
14h50-17h50: Free practice 4