Alpine was way back in 51st place with technical problems at the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours. Rain poured and the track had already seen tragedy with an early fatality. Signatech-Alpine’s team with their drivers Tristan Gommendy, Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues, fought back and finished 15th overall and 9th in the LMP2 class.
They kicked ass.
Thirty-five years after the Alpine’s 1978 victory, Alpine managed a successful return to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Sure, they didn’t podium – they certainly had the pace to do it – the time deficit and weather were just too much. They fought hard. The Signatec-Alpine team was awarded the 38th ‘Prix ESCRA’ for the best technical performance by a team during the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours.
“The first observation I must make is the calibre of our team,” affirms Signatech Alpine team principal Philippe Sinault. “The work that everybody has carried out in recent weeks – and particularly over the past 24 hours – has been outstanding. It was a tremendous source of pride to see our mechanics’ efforts recognised by a jury. That is significant, because they are very much a part of our future. We were also able to note just how much the sport’s fans want to see the fabulous Alpine story continue. The race was difficult mentally, but I think we demonstrated that we have a great deal of potential and the early frustrations were alleviated by our superb fight back. We needed to show everybody what we are capable of, but ultimately, victory is the only true satisfaction – and we will do everything within our power to reach that new goal as quickly as possible!”
Nelson Panciatici: “I think we showed that we are competitive – our lap times underlined that we were in the ballpark – so I am naturally disappointed with the end result. My final stint was the most difficult one, but by then, there was nothing really left to fight for. This team and the Alpine A450 clearly have potential – we’ve proved that here!”
Tristan Gommendy: “That was a particularly tough race. We made a few small mistakes, which caused us to drop out of the leading pack during the early phase of the race. We pushed flat-out to battle our way back, and it was towards the end of the race that I felt the most comfortable and set some strong lap times. My final stint was really enjoyable – I was in the car for almost three hours. Whatever the result, we will have very good memories of Alpine’s return to Le Mans this year!”
Pierre Ragues: “I think that was the most difficult of the seven races I have driven at Le Mans. I didn’t do a single stint without it raining! The track conditions were constantly changing. For Alpine’s return to Le Mans, the weather could certainly have been kinder to us! We knew we needed to get to the finish, especially after the problems we had at the beginning of the race. On my side, I gave it everything I could, but I am obviously a bit disappointed and frustrated because our pace showed that our podium ambitions were definitely achievable.” – – Signatech Alpine
So, why do I consider it a good thing for everyone? Well – aside from the fact they are a kick-ass team, and that they were a bit of an underdog from the beginning. Why does Alpine’s successful return to Le Mans 24 Hours matter?
If the new Alpine team is successful, Renault (Nissan’s partner) might build the incredibly sexy Renault Alpine A110-50. A concept that sets the definition of what a sensual sports car can be. You can read about Renault Alpine A110-50 (here).
God, I hope it happens.
Speaking of (unique) European vehicles, check out this FIAT 500L inside and out video!
I’m very happy for team Signatech-Alpine – I’ll be even happier if Renault/Nissan builds the A110-50 and sells it in the USA.