Alpine Elf Endurance Team at Spa
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Points and progress for Alpine Elf Endurance Team at Spa
Points and progress for Alpine Elf Endurance Team at Spa
Seventh and eighth in the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Alpine Elf Endurance Team scored its second consecutive double points entry in Belgium.
With the best lap in the race in its category, the team defied the pitfalls of the event while showing encouraging progress during the third meeting of the calendar.
The Blues are now focusing on the next stage of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 2-11, 2023).
Determined to bounce back after a difficult start to the season, Alpine Elf Endurance Team and its two trios returned to action on Thursday for the third round of the FIA WEC on the famous Spa-Francorchamps Circuit.
After two dry practice sessions, the drivers discovered wetter conditions before qualifying was entrusted for the first time this year to Olli Caldwell and Charles Milesi. Regularly lowering his mark, the Briton took tenth position ahead of Charles Milesi, penalized by traffic in his last two attempts.
Despite the drizzle falling on the Belgian Ardennes on Saturday, Memo Rojas and Julien Canal put on slick tires for the start in front of packed stands, more than 72,000 spectators having visited Spa this week. Authors of good starts, notably with three ranks gained for the Frenchman, the two men moved into the top ten and worked to consolidate their places on a drying, but tricky track.
The team continued its offensive by placing André Negrão at the wheel of the No. 35 at the start of the second hour while Julien Canal extended his effort before passing the baton to Charles Milesi in the No. 36. However, the racing events impacted the Blues’ plans. The safety car appeared when Charles Milesi had already entered the pit lane, forcing him to make a five-second refueling before a second stop. The Frenchman was also penalized with a drive-through for having bitten the line at the exit of the pits while the sister car also received a five-second penalty for having created a slight gap behind the safety car.
Tenth at the start of his triple stint, Olli Caldwell set out to reconquer lost ground while Charles Milesi, then Matthieu Vaxiviere kept big points in sight in the game of offbeat strategies. Always quick to react quickly, the team then took advantage of a new neutralization to attempt a strategic move. The excellent responsiveness of the mechanics and the operations team allowed the two Alpine A470s to gain positions before André Negrão and Charles Milesi returned to the track after a fourth safety car.
Generous in their effort, the Frenchman – author of the fastest lap in the LMP2 race – and the Brazilian put their hearts into their final double stints and crossed the finish line in seventh and eighth places. This performance also allows Alpine Elf Endurance Team to sign its best result of the year with ten units registered in Belgium.
With its new learnings on the Alpine A470 and Goodyear tires, Alpine Elf Endurance Team is now turning its attention to the flagship event of the calendar, the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Starting from the Weigh-in on Friday June 2, this meeting will be punctuated by several events concocted by Alpine throughout this long week which will culminate with the great Sarthe classic on June 10 and 11.
André Negrão: “It was a difficult race with a lot of ups and downs, but there is progress on our part. We had to be particularly careful with our consumption to avoid a splash in the last minutes and we managed to do so with a few points to boot. However, we need to work harder to find more performance, but it looks like we are heading in the right direction ahead of Le Mans. »
Olli Caldwell : «I’m happy with my work over the whole weekend, but we still have some pace to find to be truly competitive. I had mixed feelings after qualifying. I was satisfied to be close to the sister car with one of the references in the category at the wheel, but disappointed to be far from the places we were aiming for. We have made progress, but we will have to take advantage of our next tests at Monza to accelerate our momentum and approach the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the best conditions.»
Memo Rojas : « Even though I am satisfied that the crew reached the finish without problems, we still have work to do to fight for the podium. It was a difficult race in new conditions for us with this car before this weekend. It was even more complicated with a start on slicks on a wet track, but we did well. Our pace has improved, we are closer to the leaders, but we must accelerate our development curve before our next race at Le Mans!»
Matthieu Vaxiviere : « It was a frustrating week, but I prefer to remember our progress even if the race events and our penalty did not make it easier for us. We saw the finish, so we got our fill of information by trying several things and we will analyze it together in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We are going in the right direction and we will work harder than ever before the biggest meeting on the calendar. »
Charles Milesi : « I’m a little disappointed with my mistake leaving the pits after my first stint and the penalty costs us precious seconds. We must continue our efforts to unlock more performance while degrading our tires less. We are leaving soon for testing at Monza and I hope that we can take advantage of them to approach the 24 Hours of Le Mans in good conditions.»
Julien Canal : « The start was rather stressful in difficult conditions, but we were up to the challenge. The car performed very well at the start of the race since I was able to overtake two competitors in the first turns. We then had to deal with the deterioration of our tires, an area on which we still need to work. We have nevertheless made progress, but there is still work to be ready for Le Mans.»
Philippe Sinault, Team Principal Alpine Elf Endurance Team : « Even though the end result did not match our ambitions, we were able to compete with our competitors. The final practice session in the rain affected our understanding of the car on this circuit, resulting in difficult qualifying. We bounced back in the race with the top five within our reach, but success eluded us, particularly with the #36 entering the pit lane when the safety car entered the track. Despite this combination of circumstances and the penalty, we managed to set the fastest lap in the race and catch up with our rivals. The No. 35 also showed good progress despite a complicated race. So there are a lot of positive points before heading to Monza for two days of testing. The objective will be to confirm our progress, to explore certain areas of work further and to continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. »
TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – LMP2
1. Team WRT n°41 146 laps
2. United Autosports n°23 +6”042
3. Inter Europol Competition n°34 +15’’467
7. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°36 +1’02”147
8. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°35 +1’19”346
FIA Endurance LMP2 Trophy
1. United Autosports n°22 – 66 points
2. Team WRT n°41 – 58 points
3. United Autosports n°23 – 45 points
9. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°36 – 16 points
10. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°35 – 5 points