Big weekend for Alpine Elf Endurance Team in SPA
The pace is accelerating in the FIA World Endurance Championship with round three of the season this week in Belgium. Following its first double points finish of 2023 at Portimão, Alpine Elf Endurance Team and its crews look to step up their game at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The trios of the #35 and #36 Alpine A470s will also use the meeting to continue their preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A fixture on the calendar since the inception of the FIA WEC in 2012, the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is one of the discipline's key races and one of the most eagerly awaited by competitors.
Widely considered one of the world's finest tracks, the Belgian circuit is also one of the most demanding and appreciated with its elevation changes and technical corners putting emphasis on set-up and driving finesse. Fearsome by nature, unpredictable weather conditions often compound the challenge, but Alpine Elf Endurance Team will draw on its rich history in the Belgian Ardenne to thwart the traps.
Alpine has achieved several milestones in its contemporary racing programme at this Endurance racing landmark. As early as 2015, the A450b scored its first FIA WEC points there. The following year, the A460 won in Belgium in a campaign that ended with its first world title. Later on, the Alpine A470 scored a pole position and two podium results, crucial to reclaiming the LMP2 crown in 2018... All this before the Alpine A480 Hypercar's first race and runner-up finishes in 2021 and 2022!
Twelve months later, Alpine Elf Endurance Team returns to Belgium intending to kickstart its campaign. The team isn't leading the FIA Hypercar World Endurance Championship as it did last year, but its experience will be a precious asset in a race often seen as the last rehearsal before the 24 Hours of Le Mans week. After opening their tally at Sebring and getting both prototypes into the points at Portimão, Les Bleus are keen to accelerate their comeback on a track they are familiar with, as well as their six drivers, which is a first for this season.
On the Ardenne toboggan, the A-arrowed band team will focus on several aspects: perfecting its relearning of the LMP2 category where the slightest detail proves to be crucial, as well as repositioning itself in the general classification and initiating a new dynamic ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the rest of the season.
With increasing familiarity with the A470 and a growing team spirit at each round, André Negrão, Memo Rojas and Olli Caldwell, as well as Julien Canal, Charles Milesi and Matthieu Vaxiviere, will be in action on Thursday for the first free practice session. As tradition dictates, the 12th edition of the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will be run on Saturday, starting at 12:45 pm, and a field of 37 cars, including ten LMP2s against the #35 and #36 Alpines.
Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance Team Principal
"Our start to the season has not been as successful as we had hoped, but we are focused and united for our next challenges. We knew LMP2 had changed dramatically compared to what we had experienced up to 2020. The balance has changed with less aerodynamic load, less power and different tyres that are no longer heated. It is not an excuse, everyone is on the same footing, but we are still working to find the right formula. We are not that far off, but we know there is still work to do, and we have identified the areas we need to focus on to get back into the mix in this extremely tight field. We also need to be more comfortable in qualifying, but we believe that the next few meetings should be more favourable for us. Despite its status as dress rehearsal before the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we must remember that Spa is a unique race, with all the weather variables. We must therefore remain confident and create a good dynamic to get into contention. The drivers are united, and the whole team is preparing these upcoming and incredibly interesting events."
Thursday 27 April
11:00 am-12:30 pm: Free practice 1
3:30-5:00 pm: Free practice 2
Friday 28 April
10:30-11:30 am: Free practice 3
5:25-5:40 pm: Qualifying LMP2
Saturday 29 April
12:45-6:45 pm: TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps