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Alpine Elf endurance team put to the test in Portimão.

Alpine Elf endurance team put to the test in Portimão
Alpine Elf endurance team mis à l'épreuve à Portimão

Alpine Elf endurance team put to the test in Portimão

Alpine Elf Endurance Team competed in the second round this weekend
of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Portimão.
• In search of the perfect settings on the Portuguese track, the team made
proof of resilience during a veritable six-hour sprint to place
its two A470 prototypes in the points.
• Determined to take a step forward, the Blues are focusing on their
next events: the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-
Francorchamps (April 27-29) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 10-11).

Performing well since its return to LMP2 last month at Sebring, Alpine Elf Endurance Team returned to the track for the second meeting of the FIA WEC with the desire to confirm its potential at the Autódromo do Algarve.

From Friday, the team and its six drivers resumed the in-depth work begun during winter testing on this same circuit and continued in Florida. After three studious sessions cut short by contact caused by the No. 94 Peugeot on the No. 35 Alpine A470, the crews tackled qualifying, where the LMP2 once again demonstrated all its competitiveness with a field holding a little more of a second. Despite all their efforts, and despite a certain lack of traction on their second set of tires, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere had to be content with tenth and eleventh positions.

On Sunday lunchtime, the start was given by Natalie Robyn, Director General of the FIA.
Making perfect use of the two formation laps to warm up his tires, Julien Canal made a superb takeoff to gain two places and climb to ninth place ahead of his teammate Memo Rojas. Diligent during their regulatory driving time, the Silver drivers carried out their double stints seriously on a circuit where they quickly had to deal with traffic before being respectively relayed by Charles Milesi and André Negrão.

Wearing new tires, the two men increased the pace to reduce the gap on their rivals and battle with the WRTs despite a deficit in top speed and a race that was extremely unconducive to strategic shifts. Shortly before reaching the halfway point, the team made the decision to change the rear block on the No. 36 as Matthieu Vaxiviere and Olli Caldwell entered the track. After two stints, Matthieu Vaxiviere handed the baton back to Charles Milesi while Olli Caldwell tripled his effort to lower his times and stay in ambush.

The debates came alive at the start of the last hour with the only neutralization of the event. The incident with the #4 Vanwall allowed the #36 Alpine to reconnect before the final sprint and Charles Milesi took the opportunity to surprise the #28 JOTA. After his final pit stop, the Burgundian continued his offensive to overtake the No. 34 Inter Europol Competition twelve minutes from the finish and secure ninth place, just over thirty seconds from the podium. At the same time, André Negrão finished just outside the top ten.

By placing ninth and eleventh, the brand with the A arrow signs its first double entry into the points. However, the team remains determined to take a step forward at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Held on April 29, this event will be of capital importance since it is generally considered to be the final dress rehearsal before the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Alpine Elf endurance team mis à l'épreuve à Portimão

They said

André Negrão
” It was a difficult race, as we were behind the pace of the category leaders. There has been progress since Sebring, but we must redouble our efforts to continue closing the gap. Despite the challenges, we nevertheless reached the finish and this will be useful to us since we were able to collect a lot of data which we will analyze in detail in order to be much better placed in two weeks at Spa. “

Olli Caldwell
” It was a difficult race, but I think we can also take some positives from it. I had a good battle in my first stint and started to make up some ground. It’s just a shame we couldn’t have fought harder towards the end. For Spa, I hope we can gain pace for qualifying to be well placed to battle in the race. After being forced to retire at Sebring, this is a step forward and we will work hard to continue on this path as the season progresses.”

Memo Rojas
” Despite a result below our objectives, we were more competitive than at Sebring.
We have managed to narrow the gap against the leaders in the category, but we are aware that we still have a lot of work to do to be at the forefront. Despite a clean performance from the team, the nature of the race did not allow us to play on our strengths, such as strategy, but we will work harder than ever all together to get closer to the top five. “

Matthieu Vaxiviere
” The result is necessarily frustrating, because we did not really succeed in regaining ground over the course of the weekend. It was very difficult for me to get all the grip out of the car in qualifying and this race didn’t really offer any opportunities to try anything. We will all work as a team to quickly turn the page on Portimão and find a place more in line with our objectives as soon as possible.”

Charles Milesi
” It was a bit of a frustrating Sunday. After promising tests, temperatures rose and qualifying was not optimal. We also expected a less difficult start to the race, especially on my first two stints. We made some adjustments by changing the rear block. This gave us performance again, but overtaking in the peloton remains extremely complicated on this track. We know the areas where we need to focus, but I also take away the positives from this clean race. It’s up to us to do better in Spa!”

Julien Canal
” We arrived in Portimão with high hopes after the missed podium at Sebring. We started with the same base of settings, but we perhaps did not adapt it enough to this atypical circuit. We had to deal with some unexpected reactions from the car, but we will do everything we can as a team to evolve and improve. This result is far from our objectives, but I am convinced that we have the capacity to bounce back by working hard during this short period before Spa.
We will come back stronger, we have the potential.”

Philippe Sinault, Team Principal Alpine Elf Endurance Team

” It has not been an easy week on a circuit where we had worked well during winter testing. From our first laps, we had to deal with an inconsistent balance on our two prototypes. Our drivers managed to slip away on one lap during extremely close qualifying, but we knew this would expose us on the long runs. We were in the right place in the race, fighting with teams among the leaders in this category and a crew finishing on the podium, but we were missing that little extra to make the difference. We took a gamble by changing the block at the rear to have a better aerodynamic configuration and take advantage of it in the event of a neutralization. The safety car finally arrived very late – too late – since the gaps had already been made. Overall, we are missing a few tenths and that is not forgiving in this LMP2 class where everything depends on the details. We are not satisfied with this result, but we know what to work on and we remain committed to Spa. “


6 Heures de Portimão – LMP2
1. United Autosports n°23 215 tours
2. United Autosports n°22 +0’’684
3. Team WRT n°41 +5’’272
9. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°36 +37’’835
11. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°35 + 2 tours
Trophée FIA Endurance LMP2
1. United Autosports n°22 – 56 points
2. Prema Racing n°63 – 40 points
3. Team WRT n°41 – 33 points
9. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°36 – 10 points
11. Alpine Elf Endurance Team n°35 – 1 point