The FIA WEC returns to Fuji Speedway (Japan) for the first time since 2019.
With two race wins so far this season, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere will defend their World Endurance Championship leadership.
Driven by their desire to keep the momentum going, Alpine Elf Endurance Team will look to add another line to its impressive record in Japan.
Following America and Europe, the FIA World Endurance Championship now heads to the Far East to begin its Asian tour, which will conclude at the season-finale in Bahrain.
Just a few days after its success in the Monza 6 Hours, the Alpine A480 was sea-freighted to Fuji. It was only today that Alpine Elf Endurance Team reunited with its Hypercar to fine-tune its preparations for the penultimate round of the 2022 season.
The Fuji Speedway, located about 100 kilometres from Tokyo with Mount Fuji as a backdrop, is a genuine Endurance monument. The 4.563 km long track is characterised by a 1.5 km pit-straight leading to a section of fast corners and two other more sinuous sectors.
The A-arrowed brand first excelled on this track back in 1978, with the victory of the A441 of Masahiro Hasemi and Kazuyoshi Hoshino in the Fuji 500 kilometres. In the 21st century, Les Bleus soon echoed that glorious past, delighting its Japanese fans by popping champagne at Fuji every year between 2015 and 2018. In 2015, the Alpine A450b even scored its first world championship podium in LMP2 there!
After two cancelled editions due to the pandemic, Fuji is back on the calendar this year. Despite their experience, Alpine Elf Endurance Team will face new challenges, as this will be the first race for the A480 at Fuji. In addition to finding the perfect balance between aerodynamic finesse and efficient grip on tight corners, the team will also have to keep an eye on the skies as autumn rains arrive in the Japanese archipelago.
While unpredictable weather often causes trouble in the race, Alpine has regularly excelled in these conditions. On this circuit, which has been kind to the French squad in the past, it must be remembered that the team's title rival will be racing on its home track and will thus have an advantage at a crucial moment in the battles for the drivers' and manufacturers' titles.
The team is nonetheless determined to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes its way, ared with the operational excellence of its engineers and mechanics which led it to victory at Sebring and Monza. Despite the ever-increasing competition, the #36 Alpine A480 will also benefit from the experience and cohesion of its drivers, more united than ever to remain at the top of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
André Negrão, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Nicolas Lapierre will join their rivals on Friday for the first two free practice sessions. A third session will take place on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon. The Fuji 6 Hours will start on Sunday at 11.00 am local time (GMT+9).
Philippe Sinault, Team Principal Alpine Elf Endurance Team
"We are heading to Fuji in good shape, much better than we thought at the beginning of the year. We are extremely motivated and excited to return to Fuji and meet again our many Japanese fans there. Fuji is a big name in international motorsport and we have fond memories of it, even though, this year, we are challenging our main rivals on their home turf. The circuit has special characteristics, including a very long straight, which requires a compromise between top speed and aerodynamic load. Motricity on the exit of tight corners and tyre wear are also important issues, especially if it rains. We will have to be quick to respond and attentive to what is going on to remain proactive when it comes to race developments and incidents. However, we are sure the qualities of our car will allow us to excel, and we intend to give it everything we have. The goal is to remain in contention for the title on merit before the season-finale, and this will require a good result, so at least a podium result."
Friday 9 September
4:00-5:30 am: Free practice 1
8:30-10:00 am: Free practice 2
Saturday 10 September
3:20-4:20 am: Free practice 3
8:00-8:10 am: Qualifying Hypercar
Sunday 11 September
4:00-10:00 am: 6 Hours of Fuji