Seven weeks after its racing debut in Qatar, Alpine discovered a new track by completing its first laps with the A424 at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola for the second round of the FIA ​​WEC Championship.

The team made the most of the three test sessions to find the best set-up and the right compromises on the Italian circuit. The 242 laps completed also allowed the Alpine Endurance Team to facilitate the inclusion of Jules Gounon who, this weekend, raced with the team given the absence of the convalescent Ferdinand Habsburg.

On Saturday, qualifying was entrusted to Paul-Loup Chatin and Nicolas Lapierre. Under a threatening sky, the two drivers took up the challenge of warming up the medium tires on an ever-changing track. Stopped by the red flag on their fastest lap two minutes from the end of the session, the Alpine no. 35 and n. 36 had to settle for the ninth row on the grid.

The start of the 6 Hours of Imola took place with Charles Milesi and Matthieu Vaxiviere at the wheel. After the two formation laps, both Alpine Hypercars found themselves trapped between the other competitors’ cars. After a good start which allowed him to gain several positions before the first corner, Matthieu Vaxiviere was involved in a collision with the Isotta Fraschini n. 11, Peugeot no. 94 and BMW no. 15. Charles Milesi, who was following them closely, had to pass on the gravel of the first chicane to avoid them and get back onto the track in the LMGT3 traffic.

During the intervention of safety cars, the mechanics, with great efficiency, managed to change the front and rear blocks as well as a caliper connecting rod in less than five minutes on the n. 36, to allow Matthieu Vaxiviere to resume the race with just three laps behind the leader. Charles Milesi quickly left the LMGT3s behind, returning to tail the Hypercars after the restart, before reporting a power steering anomaly, which was promptly resolved as soon as he stopped in the pits.

Fourteenth after this start full of twists and turns, Charles Milesi handed over the wheel to Paul-Loup Chatin. Matthieu Vaxiviere, in eighteenth position, passed the baton to Mick Schumacher. Using different tire strategies, both drivers took lap after lap and managed to gather vital information on tire deterioration, before switching to grooved tires when it started to rain a couple of hours before the end.

Busy facing an increasing number of challenges, the German and Frenchman, who went off the track without consequences, were then replaced by Nicolas Lapierre and Jules Gounon respectively for the final straight. Jules Gounon, fully concentrated for his debut in prototype races in difficult track conditions, did not make the slightest mistake with slick tires on a track that was starting to dry out, taking thirteenth place for the crew. Behind him, Nicolas Lapierre consolidated the efforts made by his teammates until, due to aquaplaning, he had to settle for sixteenth position, after a duel with the Peugeot no. 94.

At the end of this weekend in which the team raced under the eyes of 73,600 spectators, Alpine is aiming for fifth position in the World Endurance Hypercar Championship among the nine manufacturers registered. The next event on the calendar will take place from 9 to 11 May at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium for a six-hour race.

Charles Milesi

AND It was a complicated race. We had never driven on this circuit, which highlighted some of the areas for improvement. The start was quite chaotic and I couldn’t help but go over the gravel. I tried to do my best, despite the little problem I had with the power steering, which cost us about fifteen seconds and forced us to stop early. Paul-Loup and Jules managed the rest of the race well in difficult conditions. Now we know better what points we will have to work on for the next race.

Jules Gounon

AND It’s been a complicated week for the team. The program is still in its infancy and it was my first race weekend, as Ferdinand’s replacement. My goal was not to make any mistakes and I’m happy to have achieved it, even if I still have a lot to learn about the prototype. AND It was truly a field test, but I think the team managed to gather a lot of information to bounce back at Spa and in the following races.

Paul-Loup Chatin

After the good debut in Qatar, we encountered more difficulties on a different circuit. The fact that we didn’t ride as much as our rivals on this track highlighted the points we need to continue working on, analyzing what happened to move forward. Everything is never perfect in top-level sports and now we are all already focused on the next round. The team is even more united and compact in this complicated moment and no one will give up in order to come back even stronger.

Matthieu Vaxiviere

AND complicated when a six-hour race starts like this. I had prepared well for the start, the tires were at temperature and I think I didn’t take any unnecessary risks. AND it all happened very quickly, I felt the impact from behind, which threw me towards the Peugeot and the BMW. I managed to get the car back to the pits, where the mechanics did a great job to allow us to restart as quickly as possible. We kept a good pace, but not enough compared to our opponents, so we must continue to analyze and work to improve throughout the race.

Mick Schumacher

AND It was a pretty difficult weekend overall, but the most important thing is to take the positive aspects. We were able to react quickly in changing weather conditions, the communication between myself and the team was excellent and we showed that we have excellent potential on both dry and wet track. We need to look at the areas where we can still make progress. We are only at the beginning of the project and I am convinced that we can make progress already from Spa.

Nicolas Lapierre

AND It was a race from which we learned many lessons, which highlighted the points on which we need to improve, highlighting them on a specific circuit, where the car had never been driven before. Despite the result, we will be able to develop areas to work on to make progress by the next race. Spa will soon arrive with a very different, but more conventional circuit which, we hope, will be better suited to us.

Philippe Sinault, Team Principal of Alpine Endurance Team

We knew it would be a difficult race, especially after qualifying, where we didn’t have a great result. AND It was a test for us, but also a track configuration different from anything we had experienced so far. The goal was to continue learning.

We lost a lot at the start. Which was followed by traffic management, complicated conditions and several twists in the race.

However, I would like to underline how each driver has demonstrated the ability to adapt in the face of these challenges. The team kept Ferdinand in their thoughts throughout the weekend. Ferdinand participated remotely in the sessions’ debriefing meetings.

I would also like to highlight Jules’ beautiful debut, both for the context of his arrival and for the debut on a treacherous track. We have highlighted some points that we need to continue working on for the rest of the season. AND a good thing and both cars crossed the finish line. Now we have a lot of data to analyze in the three weeks leading up to Spa, which will arrive quickly. So we will not slow down our efforts to continue learning and strengthening ourselves before the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


6 Hours of Imola

1. Toyota Gazoo Racing no. 7

2. Porsche Penske Motorsport no. 6

3. Porsche Penske Motorsport no. 5

13. Alpine Elf Endurance Team no. 35

16. Alpine Elf Endurance Team no. 36

World Endurance Hypercar Drivers Championship

1. Estre / Lotterer / Vanthoor – 56 points

2. Conway / de Vries / Kobayashi – 40 points

3. Campbell / Christensen / Makowiecki – 39 points

9. Chatin / Milesi – 9 points

10. Habsburg – 9 points

15. Lapierre / Schumacher / Vaxiviere – 0 points

World Endurance Hypercar Manufacturers’ Championship

1. Porsche – 57 points

2. Toyota – 48 points

3. Ferrari – 31 points

4. BMW – 17 points

5. Alpine – 15 points


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