Tag Archives: Alpine A450

European Le Mans series

Alpine ELMS


– The Alpine A450 of Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici secured the 2013 ELMS crown thanks to a score of three podium finishes, including outright victory in Hungary, 35 years after the Alpine A442b’s triumph at Le Mans in 1978 with Didier Pironi/Jean-Pierre Jaussaud.

– Signatech-Alpine claimed fourth place at the final round of the 2013 championship at Circuit Paul Ricard, France, after a drama-packed race. 

Alpine’s renaissance was marked by the brand’s return to motor racing and its maiden season was rewarded with the 2013 European Le Mans Series title.

Signatech-Alpine’s programme for the season was confirmed on March 8 and featured two primary objectives: June’s Le Mans 24 Hours and the European Le Mans Series. In the six months that have elapsed since that announcement, the Alpine A450 has produced a number of top performances, extending from a strong display at Le Mans – which earned the ESCRA Award for the best technical support – to the brand’s first title success of the modern era.

Just two weeks after its landmark victory in Hungary, Signatech-Alpine lined up for the start of the 3 Hours of Paul Ricard with the ELMS title in its sights, 39 years after its last European crown with Alain Serpaggi, Gérard Larousse, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Alain Cudini.

This weekend’s competition saw Pierre Ragues qualify the Alpine A450 on the second row before a cautious start to the race which led to the car initially trailing its chief rival for the championship. However, a lengthy pit stop for the latter enabled the Normandy-based driver to figure in fourth place during his 90-minute stint.

He then handed the car to his team-mate Nelson Panciatici who was forced to pit to change a defective steering wheel shortly afterwards. Overcoming that unscheduled stop, Nelson then successfully fought his way back up the order to clinch the title which came close to slipping from Alpine’s grasp…

Indeed, the N°36 Alpine A450 climbed from seventh place to claim fourth overall after improving its best race lap once again and despite one last pit stop which enabled Panciatici to complete the three-hour race with the pressure off. Fourth place was sufficient to clinch the 2013 ELMS crown for Alpine.

This title is a tremendous reward for a season which I believe was marked by panache, determination and professionalism,” observed Bernard Ollivier after the finish. “Ever since the start of the programme, we have been privileged enough to benefit from strong backing from the media and racing fans alike. We would like to dedicate this title to them. Perhaps it’s just a first step…”

I think we can say that Alpine is back,” observed Signatech Alpine’s Team Principal Philippe Sinault. “This team is like a family; a family which has worked very hard. It wasn’t easy because the programme got off to a late start and it took a little time to get everything into motion. It’s been a highly emotional ride, too. I would also like to congratulate Paul-Loup Chatin on his races which have earned him the title in his category. He was a firm believer in our project and I hope to see him become part of our LM P2 programme next year. It’s too soon to talk about 2014 but we are exploring the possibility of running two Alpine A450s at Le Mans as part of a broader programme.”

Philippe Sinault’s associate Didier Calmels added: “This title is the perfect reward for the hard work and sacrifices put in by Philippe Sinault. He has been the perfect leader and has always put the team first. His passion has undoubtedly lifted this programme with Alpine.”

The team’s drivers were also moved by the occasion, including Pierre Ragues who produced an impeccable season: “This is a very moving moment, and pretty incredible. We survived a few scares but the main thing is to have won the championship. This title showcases our level and we have made consistent progress. It’s time to celebrate our success which Signatech-Alpine deserves 100 percent!”

Nelson Panciatici added: “It was a drama-filled race which turned out to be quite difficult. I pushed as hard as I could during my first stint to move back up the leaderboard, but the end of the race was easier. Perhaps we were a little fortunate today but our sole objective was always the title. Everyone has worked extremely hard on this programme and today we form a real family, so this is a fabulous recompense.”

Like his elders, Paul-Loup Chatin had a dramatic race at Le Castellet, but Alpine’s ‘junior’ driver succeeded in coming second in the LM PC class to clinch the category’s title!

Tristan Gommendy was with Signatech-Alpine at Le Castellet to share the title celebrations. In addition to contesting the Le Mans 24 Hours with Pierre and Nelson, he carried out a significant amount of test work in the Alpine A450 in the course of the year.

2013 3 Hours of Paul Ricard – final positions:
1, Murphy Prototypes (Hirschi/Hartley), 93 laps
2, Morand Racing (Klien/Gachnang), +6.255s
3, Jota Sport (Turvey/Dolan), +21.691s
4, Signatech-Alpine (Ragues/Panciatici), +1m24.350s
5, Boutsen Ginion Racing (Kuppens/Kapadia), +1m38.954s. Etc.

Final 2013 European Le Mans Series standings (Teams)
1, Signatech Alpine (85 points)

2, Thiriet by TDS Racing (77)
3, Jota Sport (71). Etc.

Final 2013 European Le Mans Series standings (Drivers)
1, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues (85 points)

2, Pierre Thiriet (77)
3, Oliver Turvey and Simon Dolan (71). Etc

Le Mans

Nelson Panciatici 1

LE MANS 24 HOURS 2013 (June 22 & 23)..


The Signatech-Nissan team successfully ran through all their tests on Test Day and demonstrated just how competitive the Alpine A450 is without driving for the sake of pure performance. With these positive results, Nelson Panciatici feels ready to take on Le Mans 24 Hours!

Nelson Panciatici, who reached the foot of the podium last year even though a flat tyre three hours from the finish knocked him out of second place in the LMP2 class, knows he has a trump card to play even though competition looks fierce:

“The battle in LMP2 is going to be intense,” Nelson Panciatici tells us. “I am confident, we have been competitive and reliable since the start of the year and our Michelin tyres work perfectly on the Alpine A450. But Le Mans 24 Hours is a different kind of race and we have to stay grounded, a podium win would be a nice reward for everyone and we will seize any opportunity to win! I worked hard on my fitness regime because it will be difficult to stay on top form for 24 hours.

“Test Day reminded me how intense the traffic can be and how hard it is to get a clear lap, I didn’t complete a single lap without some hold-up, it is part Le Mans’ magic and we have to adapt to it.

“Our tests were good which leads us to believe we will perform well and our strategic choices could make all the difference. I am calm because with my co-drivers, Pierre Ragues and Tristan Gommendy, we have all we need to aim for a “performance” in the LMP2 class, even though I know it won’t be easy and competition will be tough. I don’t have a lot of experience in Le Mans 24 Hours, this is only the second time I take part, but I have great support from the whole Signatech-Alpine team, and even though I know we have to be vigilant, I still feel we can do it!”

The LMP2 battle is going to be a serious challenge as more than 20 cars have signed up in this class and the show will be as intense as that in LMP1! The Signatech-Alpine team want to fight for lead positions and Nelson Panciatici will do his best to get there!



Alpine back on the podium at Imola…

–           Alpine A450 drivers Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues completed the 3 Hours of Imola (round two of the 2013 European Le Mans Series) in second place.

–           Thanks to their first podium finish of the season, Signatech-Alpine and its drivers are currently second in the championship’s provisional standings.

–           Signatech-Alpine’s focus will now switch to its preparations for the 90thanniversary Le Mans 24 Hours on June 22-23. The Alpine A450 will be shared at the French race by Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and Tristan Gommendy, with Paul-Loup Chatin as the team’s reserve driver.


After being represented by works drivers Jean-Pierre Jabouille (Alpine A440), Jean-Pierre Jarier, Jacques Laffite, Jody Scheckter and Henri Pescarolo (Alpine A442) at Imola in the 1970s, the French make returned to the famous Italian venue this weekend with an Alpine A450 shared by Signatech-Alpine’s Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues.

The first day of free practice saw the team top the order as it prepared for the second round of the 2013 European Le Mans Series. In qualifying, Nelson Panciatici put the Alpine A450 on the second row of the grid.

The Frenchman defended fourth place during his first stint and, on Lap 24, the Alpine A450 was the first car to pit for fuel. Nelson Panciatici handed over to Pierre Ragues, although Signatech-Alpine’s chief rivals all opted for a single driver- and tyre-change.

Pierre Ragues re-joined in fifth place and the car made its second stop shortly after the race’s halfway point. This time, he stayed at the wheel and the team’s offset strategy began to pay dividends, since he re-emerged in third place and started to gain ground on the top two cars.

Despite a few drops of rain at different places round the track, the Normandy-based driver continued to reduce the gap. After the car’s last pit stop and driver-change, Nelson Panciatici kept up the pressure and soon moved up to second place to claim Alpine’s first podium finish since the brand’s triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1978.

“We were fast throughout the race,” noted Nelson. “Despite the traffic, we managed to stay at the front of the field and I kept up a strong pace all the way to the flag. It’s a great result for the team, but I can’t help feeling we had the potential to win…”

“The race enabled us to learn a great deal about the car on Michelin slicks,” added Pierre. “I am very pleased with our lap times and this result is a big confidence-booster ahead of Le Mans. Next time out, we will need to put in a strong performance for a whole 24 hours!”

“Both our drivers did a splendid job,” observed Signatech-Alpine’s Team Principal Philippe Sinault. “We still need a little time to fully grasp the potential of our Michelin tyres in race trim. We preferred not to take the risk of double-stinting, but our tyres would have allowed us to. We are competitive and we will now be able to optimise our strategy thanks to the data we collected at Imola. There is a great deal of interest in this project and a podium finish in Italy puts us in a very positive frame of mind for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Alpine’s junior driver Paul-Loup Chatin won the LM PC class at Imola and has moved to the top of his championship.

Signatech-Alpine will now commence a specific programme in order to prepare for Le Mans. Next week, Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and Tristan Gommendy will all be at Nevers Magny-Cours, France, to get in some night-time running in the Alpine A450. The team will then have two Alpine A450s for the official pre-Le Mans Test Day on June 9 when it will have a new ‘low downforce’ aerodynamic package.

Imola – final positions:
1, Thiriet by TDS Racing (Beche / Thiriet), 108 laps

2, Signatech-Alpine (Panciatici / Ragues), +46.2s
3, Morand Racing (Mailleux / Gachnang), +1 lap
4, Race Performance (Frey / Niederhauser), +1 lap
5, Greaves Motorsport (Kimber-Smith / Heinemeier), +1 lap

European Le Mans Series standings (after two rounds):
1, Thiriet by TDS Racing (40 points)
2, Signatech-Alpine and Race Performance (30) 
4, Jota Sport (27)


Nelson Panciatici photo Eric Regouby

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.”