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WEC

TWO ALPINE A460 PROTOTYPES HUNTING FOR SUCCESS IN 2016 FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Alpine has revealed the two Alpine A460s that will contest the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
  • Alpine’s two crews (N°35: Panciatici / Cheng / Tung, N°36: Lapierre / Menezes / Richelmi) have their sights set on LMP2 victory.
  • Signatech-Alpine to make its first public appearance of 2016 at Le Castellet, France, which is hosting a two-day pre-season test for all registered teams (March 25-26).

Signatech-Alpine today took the wraps off its two Alpine A460s at Le Castellet, France.
The name of the new prototype continues the series which began with the A440 in the 1970s and which echoes Alpine’s 60th anniversary celebrations of 2015.

With new LM P2 regulations due to come into force in 2017, the Alpine A460 features a new FIA-homologated chassis. Compared with its predecessor, it has a closed cockpit for enhanced driver safety and aerodynamic efficiency. It is the first closed-cockpit Alpine since the A220 of 1969.

The Alpine A460 is powered by the same 4.5-litre V8 as the A450b. This Renault-Nissan Alliance engine delivers more than 550 horsepower and drives through a six-speed sequential gearbox.

The two Alpine A460s were unveiled alongside the Alpine Vision and Alpine Célébration show cars and sport a blue and orange livery, the colours chosen by Alpine since its motor racing comeback in 2013. The cars will be distinguishable by national flags: French for the N°36 prototype, and Chinese for the N°35 prototype.

The latter (entered under the name of Baxi DC Racing Alpine) will be in the hands of Frenchman Nelson Panciatici – a cornerstone of the team since the programme’s early days in 2013 – and Chinese drivers David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung. Formed by SR-Jackie Chan and David Cheng, DC Racing won several Asian Le Mans Series titles before joining forces for the 2016 FIA WEC campaign with Signatech-Alpine who will run the programme’s technical, sporting and logistical sides.

The N°36 car – the number which claimed back-to-back ELMS crowns in 2013 and 2014, as well as a top-three finish in the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2014 – will be shared by three newcomers to the Alpine fold, namely Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre, the USA’s Gustavo Menezes and Monegasque Stéphane Richelmi.

Both Alpine drivers and cars will be treated fairly, whatever will be the best performant crew. And may the best Alpine wins!

Being able to run two top-flight crews will allow Signatech-Alpine to step up its ambitions for its second season in endurance racing’s premier series. After winning last year’s 6 Hours of Shanghai and coming fourth in the 2015 FIA WEC (LMP2), the team is looking to continue to make progress with two cars capable of challenging for victory at every round.

Tomorrow will see Signatech-Alpine join the rest of the 2016 FIA WEC field for a two-day test ahead of the championship’s opening round, namely the 6 Hours of Silverstone in Great Britain on April 15-17.

Bernard Ollivier, Deputy Managing Director, Alpine:“After claiming back-to-back titles in the European Le Mans Series in 2013 and 2014, Signatech-Alpine showcased its professionalism and potential at world level in 2015 and has set its sights higher still in 2016. This year, the team is contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship with two new A460 prototypes – one of which will be run in association with the Chinese outfit DC Racing – and a line-up of six talented drivers. Under the leadership of Philippe Sinault, Signatech-Alpine will continue to fuel the passion of Alpine fans worldwide.”

Philippe Sinault, Team Principal, Signatech-Alpine:“Alpine’s commitment to endurance racing is being stepped up year after year. Last season, our first at FIA WEC level, was marked by a class win at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. This year, as we seek to add to our record, there is much about the team that is new, from our driver line-up and cars to the way we are organised. We are proud to have forged an association with DC Racing which means we are able to run two A460s. This is an obvious advantage and opens up fresh opportunities in terms of race strategy. It’s now down to us to harness all this potential to achieve even more success for Alpine.”

GP3

FUOCO FASTEST ON DAY TWO IN ESTORIL
Italian tops both morning and afternoon pre-season test
Trident and Ferrari Driver Academy’s Antonio Fuoco was quickest in both sessions on the second day of pre-season testing at Circuito Estoril in Portugal. The Italian driver’s best lap time of 1:27.991 set in the morning was two tenths quicker than ART Grand Prix’s Alexander Albon. Fuoco again headed the timesheet in the afternoon, this time just 0.062s clear of Arden International’s Jack Aitken.
Clouds and cooler temperatures greeted the paddock for testing but importantly the track was dry following overnight rain. DAMS’ Kevin Jörg and Jenzer Motorsport’s Oscar Tunjo set the early pace before Aitken was first to lap in the 1m29s. The times soon improved to 1m28s with Aitken again on top, ahead of Albon and Fuoco at the midway point of the session.
At the start of the final hour, birthday boy Albon bettered Aitken’s laptime by 0.022s to take P1 as the field concentrated on perfecting their set-ups and focusing on longer runs. Fuoco found some extra pace to dip into the 1m27s as the clock ticked down.
At the chequered flag Fuoco remained unchallenged in the 1m27s ahead of Albon, Aitken, Jake Hughes, Nirei Fukuzumi, Charles Leclerc, Nyck de Vries, Tunjo, Alex Palou and Jörg.
The afternoon session commenced after a two hour lunch break as the sun continued to shine down on the track. DAMS’ and Haas F1 Team development driver Santino Ferrucci led the way early on ahead of Jake Dennis and Jörg. Aitken headed to the top of the timesheet at the midway point before his teammate Tatiana Calderon lapped three tenths faster to go P1.
Trident’s Artur Janosz was first to break into the 1m28s in the afternoon before a flurry of changes at the top of the timesheet saw Dennis and Aitken hold an Arden one-two ahead of Ferrucci, Ralph Boschung and Janosz.  The session was halted briefly after a quick spin for Mahaveer Raghunathan, and with 25 minutes left on the clock the session resumed.
There was a second red flag when Leclerc stopped on track with 10 minutes to go. At the re-start, Fuoco was on another flier to take top spot with Aitken 0.062s shy of the Italian’s best effort. At the chequered flag behind Fuoco and Aitken were Janosz, Dennis, de Vries, Matthew Parry, Jörg, Ferrucci, Tunjo and Boschung.

GP3

FUKUZUMI FASTEST ON DAY ONE IN ESTORIL
ART Grand Prix rookie leads the way in pre-season testing

The 2016 season officially got underway today with day one of pre-season testing at the Circuito Estoril in Portugal. Three days of testing will take place here this week following the successful shakedown of the new GP3/16 car earlier this month. Japanese Nirei Fukuzumi posted the quickest time of the day which was set in the afternoon with a 1:28.645. Dutchman Steijn Schothorst was quickest in the morning session.
Following rain overnight, the track was wet at the start of the session, but with clear skies and the temperature gradually warming up, it wasn’t long before all the drivers switched to the slick Pirelli tyre.
In the opening hour, six drivers had posted a laptime – with the rest completing an installation lap. There was an early stoppage after Arden International’s Tatiana Calderon stopped on track with technical gremlins. Once the session resumed, DAMS’ rookie Jake Hughes went fastest lapping in the 1m31s.
There was a second red flag after Campos Racing’s Konstantin Tereshchenko ran off into the gravel. The track was green soon after with Hughes improving on his personal best to lap in the 1m30s. Albon displaced the Brit to head the timesheet at the start of the final hour until Jake Dennis bettered his time by two tenths to go top.
With three minutes left on the clock, Schothorst was first to dip into the 1m29s barrier to finish the morning session in P1 ahead of Dennis, Albon, Santino Ferrucci, Alex Palou, Matthew Parry, Fukuzumi, Jake Hughes, Ralph Boschung and Konstantin Tereshchenko.
Following a two hour lunch break, the afternoon session commenced in very high winds. It was Charles Leclerc who was fastest out of the blocks in the 1m30s before Albon lapped in the 1m29s ahead of Hughes and Kevin Jörg. It was an ART GP one-two when Leclerc shot up to P2 behind his Thai teammate, with Trident’s Giuliano Alesi and Artur Janosz completing the top five.
It was all change at the front as the clock ticked down – Parry broke into the 1m28s to take P1, ahead of Jenzer Motorsport’s Oscar Tunjo and Koiranen GP’ Ralph Boschung. The third red flag of the day was due to Tereshchenko stopping on track. Once his car was swiftly returned to the pitlane there was a frenetic end to the session. Fukuzumi flew to the top of the standings, a mere 0.015s ahead of Dennis, with his time unbeaten at the chequered flag. Albon, Leclerc, Jack Aitken, Hughes, Parry, Palou, Jörg, and Tunjo rounded out the top ten.

FORMULA 1

NICO WINS, HAMILTON CLIMES BACK TO TAKE SECOND, FERNANDO SURVIVES A HORRIFIC CRASH.

A bad start dropped Hamilton from pole to sixth but he fought to take second. Rosberg took advantage when the race was stopped following Alonso’s high-speed barrel-roll to switch strategy and overhaul early leader Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel’s strategy gamble on super-soft tyres mid-race failed and he took third ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Trying to pass the Mexican on the run down to Turn Three, Alonso’s front right wheel tagged the right rear of the Haas and he was launched into a barrel roll, coming to rest upside down in the barriers.

The two-time champion was clearly shaken but, although he limped away from his car, he was uninjured.

For the re-start, Ferrari chose to keep Vettel on the fast but fragile super-soft tyres he had fitted at his first pit stop, while Mercedes switched Rosberg from soft to medium tyres with the aim of going to the end without another stop.

From that moment on, the race was Rosberg’s barring problems. He merely had to hang on to Vettel and wait for the Ferrari to stop, which he did on lap 35.

Because of new restrictions on radio transmissions, Rosberg was unaware of potential problems with overheating brakes and excessive wear on his left rear tyre. But, while on the edge, both issues stayed under control until the end of the race.

FORMULA 1

MERCEDES PICKS UP RIGHT WHERE THEY LEFT OFF AND THE NEW QUALI FORMAT IS A DISASTER!

RED BULL COMMENTS ON QUALIFYING:

DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 8, (3rd Practice – 8, 1:26.768)
“To make it into Q3 is good, we expected to more or less be in the top eight. Another tenth would have probably given us a couple of more positions, but that’s always the way. As for the new qualifying system, Q1 and Q2 seemed okay, the clock ticking down added a bit more pressure and it might have been a bit more exciting for the fans, but Q3 didn’t seem to work as well, it was a bit weird to have the session still going and all the drivers out of their cars.”
DANIIL KVYAT, Position: 18, (3rd Practice – 13, 1:27.430) 
“Of course it’s frustrating to be P18 but we will learn from what we have done today. My first lap was compromised by traffic so I had to give it up, and on the second push lap the tyres lost a lot of performance so it wasn’t enough. It’s a new system and someone had to get it wrong and today it was us but we have plenty of things to analyse from our short life in Q1. I will do my best to go through the field tomorrow, definitely. It’s not going to be enjoyable to start from P18 but it’s a long race and we have to try and squeeze everything out of it and bring some points home.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER: “For me, this new qualifying system did not work and really we should apologise to the fans. We have not put on a show for them at all today which is a shame, especially for the first race of the season. It’s not good for qualifying to be done with five minutes to go, drivers and cars need to be out on track fighting for pole up until the last second. We should accept that we tried it, it didn’t work and the important thing is we learn from it and address it quickly. Qualifying needs to build up to a crescendo, not what we saw here today.”

FORMULA 1

RED BULL AUSTRALIA GP – FRIDAY PRACTICE

DANIEL RICCIARDO 
First Practice Session: Position: 3, Best Time: 1:30.875, Laps: 13
Second Practice Session: Position: 4, Best Time: 1:39.535, Laps: 9 
“Today was the definition of Melbourne. Four seasons in one day, that’s what everyone says and we got that today. It’s a shame we didn’t do that much constant running, but I’m not too frustrated with the position we’re in. The laps we did, I was pretty happy with and the car is in a decent place. It’s just nice to be back in the car again to be honest and I was very happy to put the helmet back on. I think tomorrow will be a little bit of a mixed bag for everyone. We did get enough running to feel all conditions and if it is variable throughout the weekend then we’re prepared for that. I took a little trip to the gravel this morning, but I noticed there were a lot of fans at Turn 12 and I wanted to say hello to them.”
DANIIL KVYAT 
First Practice Session: Position: 2, Best Time: 1:30.146, Laps: 14
Second Practice Session: Position: 10, Best Time: 1:42.411, Laps: 10
“Everything went well today I think, the car felt good out of the box so it’s promising. Obviously there wasn’t much running but it was the same for everyone and every lap we tried to take the most out of it, to learn as much as we could and we can put this data in our pocket for qualifying tomorrow and for Sunday. There’s not many indications from today, it’s impossible to predict what others were doing, what they’re going to do and so on, and so it wouldn’t be wise to draw any kind of conclusions. We still don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow so we just have to be patient and see what the day will bring us.