ALPINE COMPLETES VICTORY HAT TRICK
Following back-to-back triumphs in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans 24 Hours, Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes have tallied their third consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 class victory at the Nürburgring. Midway through the 2016 campaign, this latest success has further increased the N°36 Signatech-Alpine crew’s advantage at the top of the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers. The N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine piloted by Nelson Panciatici, Ho-Pin Tung and David Cheng similarly scored points in Germany in seventh position.
Even before they climbed onto the top step of the podium at the Nürburgring, Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes’ weekend had already been a rollercoaster ride of emotions! At the start of the opening free practice session on Friday morning, a mistake by Nicolas gave Signatech-Alpine’s crew of mechanics an early challenge to repair the car in time to allow its three drivers to return to the track and begin their preparations that afternoon.
On Saturday morning, both Alpine A460s were on the pace, with the N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine entry and the N°36 Signatech-Alpine lapping respectively third and fourth-quickest during the final free practice session. Richelmi and Menezes proceeded to qualify the N°36 second on the grid amongst the LMP2 class protagonists, with Panciatici and Cheng posting the tenth-best time in the sister car.
Today’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring got underway at 13:00 under sunny skies. Richelmi maintained second position in the early stages, as Panciatici gained a spot to run ninth. It was not long before the N°35 crew adapted its strategy, with Cheng taking over behind the wheel. Once the field began to space out, Nelson returned to the cockpit while Menezes similarly replaced Richelmi in the N°36.
After battling against two rivals for the LMP2 class lead, Gustavo seized the advantage just before mid-distance and notwithstanding repeated ‘Full Course Yellow’ interventions, Signatech-Alpine stuck firmly to its plan and the American ended his stint still in front. Lapierre was the last of the trio to jump into the N°36, with just over two-and-a-half hours remaining to the chequered flag. Remaining mindful of the gap to Bruno Senna behind, he managed the margin to perfection to bring the car home for its third consecutive triumph. Chinese ace Tung was behind the wheel of the N°35 for the final two hours and produced a solid performance to climb to seventh place.
The result has enabled the N°36 Signatech-Alpine crew to extend its championship lead to 38 points over its closest pursuer. The N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine trio sit tenth.