ALPINE ELF ENDURANCE TEAM ARRIVES AT SPA AS FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER
This week the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) resumes at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
After winning the season-opener at Sebring, Alpine Elf Endurance Team will defend its leading position in the general classification at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere will return to the scene of their first podium finish in the Alpine A480 Hypercar to fine-tune their preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For the first time since its debut in the premier class, Alpine Elf Endurance Team leads the FIA Hypercar World Endurance Championship thanks to its masterful triumph at Sebring.
After controlling the field and racking up points in Florida, the team is now preparing to defend its leadership status on a track it has experienced with its Hypercar. In April 2021, the Alpine A480 made its racing debut at Spa-Francorchamps, where Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere scored the first of their seven consecutive podiums, a streak that continues today.
Six podiums and one victory later, Philippe Sinault's troops return to the Ardenne with a much different objective: to remain at the top of the FIA WEC, increase their twelve-point lead over their closest pursuers and fine-tune their preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Belgian track is one of the most demanding and favourite in the world with its undulating layout and technical corners that emphasise setup and driving. Unpredictable weather conditions often spice the race, but the team can draw on its extensive experience at Spa-Francorchamps to overcome the circuit's pitfalls.
In 2015, the A-arrowed brand scored its first world championship points with the Alpine A450b at this endurance racing landmark. Twelve months later, the Alpine A460 won for the first time on Belgian soil in its title-winning campaign. The Alpine A470, which made its debut in 2017, was also successful at Spa, with a pole position and two crucial runner-up results in the LMP2 title reconquest.
This experience should be a valuable asset for Les Blues as they return to action and take in a race that is often considered as the final dress rehearsal before the 24 Hours of Le Mans week.
After a full year of experience with the A480 and a strong sense of unity, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere will hit the track on Thursday for the opening free practice session. The TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will start on Saturday at 1 pm. A field of thirty-seven cars, including the Toyotas and Glickenhaus in the Hypercar category, is anticipated.
Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance Team Principal
"A lot has changed since our first laps with the A480 a year ago at Spa. We have had six races inbetween to learn about our prototype, make it improve and develop the way we operate it. This week, the cards have been reshuffled a bit with the adjustments to the balance of performance. The extremely-compressed schedule of the meeting means that we can't afford to make any mistakes, and we need to get off to a good start so that we can make the most of the practice sessions to adjust the car to these new parameters. The track is also very different from Sebring, so we will have to reset while trying to carry our momentum forward. The weather will also be a factor as the forecast is for rain on Friday and Saturday. If this is confirmed, we will have to adjust our Hypercar as we didn’t drive a lot with it in the wet. We must not forget that Spa remains a race in its own right, despite its status as the last rehearsal before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In any case, the whole team is committed and highly motivated to keep our momentum."
Thursday 5 May
3:30-5:00 pm: Free practice 1
Friday 6 May
9:05-10:35 am: Free practice 2
2:00-3:00 pm: Free practice 3
6:40-6:50 pm: Qualifying
Saturday 7 May
1:00-7:00 pm: TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps