NEW ALPINE HITS THE TRACK AT PAUL RICARD –
Less than three weeks after the announcement of Alpine’s return to motorsport by Renault’s Chief Operations Officer Carlos Tavares, the N°36 Alpine made its track debut this week.
The programme’s three drivers – Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and Tristan Gommendy – took advantage of the official European Le Mans Series pre-season test at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, to get their first taste of the newcomer ahead of the 2013 campaign.
The chief objectives of the session were to test the changes made to the Alpine’s chassis and optimise its set-up to function with the latest Michelin rubber. Different tyres were evaluated in daylight and after nightfall in order to prepare for the opening rounds of the European Le Mans Series, as well as for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
In addition the technical groundwork, the three drivers used the session to find their marks in the N°36 Alpine and prepare the ground for forthcoming developments. Wednesday morning’s performance run saw Nelson Panciatici claim the fastest time of the two days.
“I am pleased with the work we were able to get in,” observed Signatech-Alpine’s Team Principal Philippe Sinault. “We tested the reliability of a high number of parts and also worked on the different new-spec tyres our partner Michelin had brought for us to evaluate. The next step will be to look at all the data before choosing the tyres we will race this year. Another important point was that all three riders were able to enjoy track time and Wednesday morning’s encouraging run allowed us to target a quick lap time. It’s all looking good for the beginning of the season.”
Nelson Panciatici: “We made good progress with Michelin. I did a number of runs with different options and I believe we succeeded in collecting some useful information. We are working in the right direction and I hope that will pay off at Silverstone!”
Pierre Ragues: “Every day brings us closer to Alpine’s first race. The team has worked very hard over the winter and this week’s test enabled us to make good progress with Michelin’s new tyres. It’s all feeling very positive, so let’s hope it all comes together at Silverstone!”
Tristan Gommendy: “My aim during these two days was to familiarise myself with the N°36 Alpine. I need to find my marks with both the car and the team. We worked on typical endurance racing-type stints without any particular pressure. It’s just the start of an exciting new adventure!”
The two-day official test also provided Alpine’s junior driver Paul-Loup Chatin with a chance to get in some track time. He forms part of Signatech-Alpine’s 2013 line-up and has been named as the reserve driver for the N°36 Alpine at Le Mans. He will also drive an LMPC car in the European Le Mans Series.