With its sights firmly set on its future in the premier Hypercar category, Alpine Elf Endurance Team reaffirms its passion for racing with two prototype entries in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2023.
The brand unveils its colours for its return to LMP2, celebrating its tenth anniversary since its comeback in Endurance and joining the festivities associated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary.
Matthieu Vaxiviere will team up with Julien Canal and Charles Milesi in the n°36 Alpine A470 while André Negrão will team up with Memo Rojas and Olli Caldwell in the n°35 sister car.
Alpine's contemporary endurance programme was launched in 2013 and has enjoyed several successes with two European crowns, two world titles and three category wins at Le Mans. The A-arrowed brand has also excelled over the past two years with wins at Sebring and Monza in the FIA WEC, an outright podium in the twice-around-the-clock French classic and a runner-up spot in the premier class.
A season of transition
This season promises to be key for the team before it returns to the premier category of the World Endurance Championship in 2024. The year will be paced by the development of the new Alpine Hypercar prototype. Complying with the LMDh regulations, it will compete against the prestigious constructors who have taken up the challenge in a more competitive than ever elite field.
With competition in its DNA, Alpine will still be racing with the Signatech team under the Alpine Elf Endurance Team banner. For this transitional year, however, the team will be competing in the LMP2 category, where it has achieved some of its finest racing achievements over the past decade.
This change implies new challenges due to the different regulations. After contributing to the expansion of the brand's list of victories between 2017 and 2020, the Alpine A470 came out of a "hibernation" of more than 800 days during pre-season testing last week in Portimão. The team also had to meticulously consider its new crews, with LMP2 requiring at least one Silver driver in each car.
An all-French trio in the n°36
Matthieu Vaxiviere has been with Alpine since its debut in the premier category and will once again have the opportunity to showcase the full extent of his talent in the n°36 A470. The Frenchman has two LMP2 podiums at Le Mans to his name and will reunite with one of his former teammates, Julien Canal.
Hailing from Le Mans, Julien Canal won the international title in 2015 and 2017 and will be a welcome addition to the team after establishing himself as one of the fastest and most reliable Silvers on the grid, with three LMP2 podiums and three GT wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His perfect knowledge of the car and his relationship with Matthieu Vaxiviere, with whom he scored a podium finish in the LMP2 category in Daytona a fortnight ago, promise a particularly close-knit crew.
The line-up will be completed by one of the most promising drivers in the discipline with Charles Milesi. After starting in single-seater, he quickly confirmed all his potential by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP2 category and the world title in his first full campaign in endurance racing in 2021. Charles Milesi, who has transferred from another team Signatech operated in LMP2 last year, will be keen to win back the crown with Les Bleus.
Alpine n°35, an international flavour
André Negrão has been a staunch member of the Signatech team, with whom he will start his sixth consecutive season, and he will also continue his adventure with Alpine to return to a category in which he won the world title in 2019 and two successes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 and 2019.
The Brazilian will share the steering wheel with Memo Rojas, an extremely experienced driver in LMP2 with seven participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although this will be his first campaign in FIA WEC, the Mexican driver will contribute his valuable knowledge to the team as he has conquered numerous motorsport landmarks: Grand-Am, 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and two European Le Mans Series titles.
A young hopeful from the Alpine Academy, Olli Caldwell will join these two skilled team-mates. A winner in nearly all the levels he competed in single-seater racing, the Briton impressed the team during the rookie tests last November with his potential and philosophy, perfectly in sync with the values of Alpine, Signatech and the world of endurance racing. At just 20 years of age, Olli Caldwell now has the opportunity to prove himself in a prototype with two highly respected teammates.
Ambitious goals on all fronts
Working with the talented operations team led by Signatech, both crews will aim to win the LMP2 Endurance Trophy by giving their all at all seven championship rounds. The Alpine A470s will kick off their campaign at Sebring (USA) in the FIA WEC Prologue (11-12 March) before the opening race of the season at the same track on 17 March.
Alpine Elf Endurance Team spearhead, Nicolas Lapierre will focus at the same time on the development of the Alpine LMDh prototype, designed in collaboration with Oreca and the Viry-Châtillon-based Alpine Racing team.
"Alpine is like my second family, so I am delighted to continue our adventure. We know that this is a transitional year with a return to a category we know well despite all the changes that happened in recent years. It will be a big challenge, but we will do everything we can to win while preparing for the future. I'm looking forward to working with Charles, an extremely fast talent I’ve seen developing with the sister car last year. I'm also excited to be back with Julien, one of the best Silver drivers in the field with his wealth of LMP2 experience. I'm looking forward to this season with confidence, as I am sure our trio will have excellent chemistry and the ambition required to win races, Le Mans and the title."
"I keenly look forward to the 2023 season with the Alpine Elf Endurance Team. I have raced against this team for many years, and to join them is a great honour. I already knew Philippe Sinault and had the opportunity to meet the whole technical structure. I was pleasantly surprised by all the team member's professionalism, team spirit and cohesion. It is also my return to FIA WEC since my 2017 title. I know the car, Matthieu is a close friend, and I got on very well with Charles straight away. This year will not be easy. We will be up against teams that have already won the WEC and ELMS titles, but we are determined to fight for as many races wins as possible and the title."
"I'm really happy to continue my journey with Signatech and to be part of the Alpine family this year. I could hardly have hoped for anything better than to become the driver of a French manufacturer and a French team at just 21 years of age. It's a unique opportunity, and I'm thrilled about it, especially as the team is doing everything to ensure we perform well with the two cars entered. In my first year in blue, I think we can get some excellent results with Matthieu and Julien and I can't wait for the season to start the season and see what we can achieve together."
"After two strong years in the Hypercar category, I'm delighted to be back in LMP2 to start my sixth season with Alpine. I want to thank Alpine, Signatech and Philippe Sinault for their confidence. The battle is going to be tough. We will be up against so many competitive cars and great teams in LMP2 this year. However, I believe we have a good opportunity to show everyone that Alpine is back to challenge for the title. With my two new teammates, we are ready to give it our all this season, and I am already looking forward to the 1000 Miles of Sebring."
"I am thrilled to join the Alpine Elf Endurance Team for my first season in the World Endurance Championship. I've had the fortune to be successful in ELMS, but my main goal is ultimately to win Le Mans. Since coming to Europe after four IMSA titles, my objective has been to win the triple crown of endurance racing: Sebring, Daytona and Le Mans, the ultimate race and the only one I am missing. Joining Alpine puts me in one of the top teams, and I will fight alongside them to try and achieve this. I am extremely grateful to have such talented teammates, with André, one of the top endurance drivers, and Olli, one of the most promising young prospects. I am sure we will form a strong team with André's experience and Olli's youth, but also with Matthieu, Julien and Charles in the n°36. It creates a great working environment with a healthy emulation to push ourselves to the maximum. I am eager to start the season, and I would like to thank Philippe Sinault for his confidence. I will do everything to reach our goals!"
"I am really excited to be joining Alpine Elf Endurance Team for the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship. This is a big change of direction for my career, but I'm looking forward to taking on a new challenge, alongside the familiarity of being part of the Alpine programme and continuing to develop my relationship with the global Alpine brand. I can’t wait to get out on track for the first race in Sebring, plus racing on new tracks such as Fuji and Le Mans is going to be a real highlight for me. I’d like to thank everyone at Alpine for this opportunity, I’m sure together with my new teammates we can push to achieve some great results."
Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance Team Principal
"We are racers, and it was unthinkable for Alpine not to be part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary celebrations. We absolutely wanted to be a part of it as competition runs in our blood and DNA, and it also allows us to get ourselves in working order with most of the technical staff who will take up the challenge that awaits us in 2024. Before starting the development of our future LMDh prototype, our challenge this winter was to fully apprehend this season and the challenges we will face in LMP2. We had to put together two driver line-ups, both homogeneous and coherent, whilst considering the specific LMP2 rules, notably with a Silver driver in each car. We are proud of our trios mixing experienced drivers with great potentials. Everyone knows the qualities and skills of Matthieu, André and Charles, while Julien's experience speaks for itself as does Memo's track record. We are also fully committed to leading Olli to a successful transition to Endurance, as we have done with André and many others in the past. We are also pleased to welcome Reshad De Gerus to the team as a reserve driver for the 2023 season. He is a talented driver, whose performance in ELMS will be closely followed this year. Ultimately, LMP2 is a category that has evolved tremendously in our two-year absence with a complete redefinition of the technical regulation framework on aerodynamics, engines and tyres. There is a superb field with an incredible level of competition awaiting us, but we are looking forward to the challenge and can't wait to get to Sebring!"
11-12 March: Prologue – Sebring (United States)
17 March: 1000 Miles of Sebring (United States)
16 April: 6 Hours of Portimão (Portugal)
29 April: 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)
10-11 June: 24 Hours of Le Mans (France)
9 July: 6 Hours of Monza (Italy)
10 September: 6 Hours of Fuji (Japon)
4 November: 8 Hours of Bahrain (Bahrain)