The Alpine A450 target the podium at Imola…
- The second round of the 2013 European Le Mans Series will take teams to Imola, some 40 kilometres from Bologna, Italy, on May 17-18.
- The 3 Hours of Imola will be the car’s last official outing before the focus switches to the 90th anniversary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 22-23.
- At Imola, the Alpine A450 will be shared by Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues whose mission will be to harvest valuable European Le Mans Series points.
A little more than a month after its maiden appearance at Silverstone, Signatech-Alpine heads for Imola with its sights set high. Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues will benefit from an evolution version of the Alpine A450 which has been adapted to meet the Italian venue’s specific characteristics.
Because of its layout, Imola makes different demands of cars than Le Mans, but Signatech-Alpine will be fully concentrated on the second clash of the five-round 2013 ELMS before it turns its attention to the season’s 24-hour showpiece.
“The set-up of the Alpine A450 will be very different in order to cater for the frequent hard acceleration and heavy braking,” notes Signatech-Alpine’s Team Principal Philippe Sinault. “The chassis will also be fine-tuned to allow the drivers to ride the Imola kerbs.”
Signatech-Alpine, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues are currently fourth in the provisional European Le Mans Series standings. “Our first race at Silverstone was very frustrating,” recalls Philippe Sinault. “The extremely long safety car period and the interruption of the race before the three hours were up prevented us from ending our first outing of the year on the podium. The drivers and everyone in the team are therefore very keen to secure a top result in Italy! We want to show what we are capable of and also come away with points.”
For Nelson Panciatici, the trip to Italy will be something of a learning curve: “I have worked hard on the simulator to familiarise myself with the track and I’ve started to find my marks. Traffic promises to play a big role during the race and it will be good practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the Alpine A450 in order to show how competitive it is. There’s still a big sense of frustration to clear after what happened at Silverstone!”
Pierre Ragues has already raced a prototype car at Imola, so he has prior knowledge of the venue’s subtleties: “It’s a circuit that’s got a history and real character. The pace is always very fast but the walls are never far away. We have done a considerable amount of work on the simulator and the technical team has made further improvements to the Alpine A450 on its new Michelin tyres. Coping with the traffic will be one of the keys to success and every second will count because the competition in the European Le Mans Series is very close.”