The FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) is gearing up for its return to competition at Fuji Speedway (Japan).
Following on from its podium finish with Charles Milesi, Julien Canal and Matthieu Vaxiviere at Monza, the squad will once again target the sharp end at the penultimate round of the calendar.
The second A470 with André Negrão, Memo Rojas and Olli Caldwell will also aim to confirm the team's momentum in the land of the rising sun ahead of the final sprint in Bahrain.
Just a few days after the first on-track runs of its future A424 Hypercar, Alpine turns its focus back to its current racing programme in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
After America and Europe, the FIA WEC heads to the Far East for an Asian leg that stretches as far as Bahrain, where the A-arrow brand will conclude its LMP2 adventure. Following its first podium finish of the season at the 6 Hours of Monza, the #36 A470 and its #35 sister car have headed to Japan by sea freight.
On Monday, Alpine Elf Endurance Team will reunite with its two prototypes to fine-tune their preparations for the season's penultimate round at Fuji Speedway, some 100 km from Tokyo. A hotbed of motorsport and endurance racing, this atypical 4.563 km circuit features a 1.5 km-long straight, high-speed corners and extremely twisty sections.
Alpine is no stranger to this track, having excelled here from, dating back to 1978 when the A441 of Masahiro Hasemi and Kazuyoshi Hoshino won the Fuji 500 km. More recently, Les Bleus have treated their throngs of Japanese fans to podium finishes in their category every year between 2015 and 2018, but also just 12 months ago with a third place overall.
Alpine Elf Endurance Team, which has come on in leaps and bounds over the first half of the season, will look to accelerate the momentum that saw it finish on the podium at Monza just before the summer break. While the team can rely on its experience and operational excellence, it must also master all the subtleties of a track, which requires a perfect balance between aerodynamic finesse and efficient traction out of tight corners.
Runners-up at Monza, Julien Canal, Charles Milesi and Matthieu Vaxiviere will target another solid result whilst the #35 trio of André Negrão, Memo Rojas, and Olli Caldwell will be eager to see their efforts finally be rewarded. Alongside them, the engineers, mechanics and strategists will also work hard to avoid the hazards of traffic and tyre degradation... As well as the autumn rain risks, always likely to upset the situation in the Japanese archipelago!
On Friday, the two crews will join their nine LMP2 rivals in a field of 36 cars for free practice before qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The Fuji 6 Hours will start on Sunday at 11 am local time (GMT+9), 4 am central European time.
Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance Team Principal
"This race is a special round with a circuit located at the foot of Mount Fuji is among the most iconic images in motorsport. Despite the distance, it's also a place that has often favoured Alpine, both in terms of the passion and enthusiasm of the fans for the brand. We are always keen to excel and aim for the best possible result on Japanese soil. The team will arrive in Japan in a few hours to work on the car, service it and adapt its set-up to the track's specific characteristics. We're back in LMP2 mode after the first productive tests of our future Hypercar and the whole team is eager to confirm our progress, as much with the crew of the #35 as with that of the #36. However, the challenge will be anything but simple, particularly with some of our drivers gearing up for their first laps at the Fuji Speedway and the weather parameter, which is often a determining factor in Japan. In any case, our troops are ready and raring to go in the hunt for another podium result."
Friday 8 September
4:00-5:30: Free practice 1
8:30-10:00: Free practice 2
Saturday 9 September
3:20-4:20: Free practice 3
8:05-8:20: LMP2 Qualifying
Sunday 10 September
4:00-10:00: 6 Hours of Fuji