•The Signatech Alpine team produced an impressive performance to finish second in LMP2 as the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) resumed at the 6 Hours of Mexico.
•After claiming pole position, Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and André Negrão secured the no.36 Alpine A470's best result this season.
•The FIA WEC continues in two weeks' time in Austin (United States).
Signatech Alpine began the weekend as it intended to continue in the opening free practice, setting the fastest time in a session where the track went from wet to damp before drying out altogether. Work continued throughout the other two practice sessions.
For qualifying, André Negrão and Nicolas Lapierre were tasked with pushing the Alpine A470 to the limit on the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. The French team's drivers produced a controlled performance, confirming their good form and grabbing Alpine's first pole position of 2017 by 3/10ths!
At Sunday lunchtime, the sky was still grey as the cars lined up at the start of the six-hour race. With three cars side by side going into the opening corner, the LMP2 drivers certainly fired up the atmosphere in the stands! Nicolas Lapierre held onto first place initially, but soon afterwards Bruno Senna (no.31) moved past. Keen to look after the tyres and car for his team-mates, the Alpine driver opted against pushing too hard to hold off Alex Lynn (no.26), who overtook before the opening pit stops.
Gustavo Menezes then got behind the wheel for a double stint. In the second part of his drive, the Californian tried to hunt down Roman Rusinov (no.26) in second place. He eventually managed to find a way past… before being forced to give back the position by race control, who adjudged the overtaking move to be too bold.
André Negrão then took over, shortly before the half-way point of the race, with the car down in fourth position due to the timing of the pit stops. The Brazilian got the better of Rusinov and then moved up another position as he passed Jean-Éric Vergne (no.24).
With 1hr 30min to go, as Nicolas Lapierre got back into the car, the no.24 and no.31 cars led the class, less than thirty seconds ahead of the Alpine. Nicolas produced a superb effort until the final round of pit stops. He reclaimed second place, just ahead of Hanley (no.24)! Under pressure from the Briton, Lapierre was forced to cut across a corner to avoid a collision. Race control therefore decided that he must let his rival past.
However, there was still time for one final twist. With less than five minutes to go, Hanley spun! This meant Lapierre moved back into second place, scoring important points for the team to consolidate its third place in the LMP2 Teams' standings.
Bernard Ollivier, Alpine Deputy Managing Director
'First of all, I would like to congratulate André and Nicolas for their performance in qualifying: this first pole position highlights our competitiveness. In light of our result in qualifying, we were hoping for the best in the race. We finished as runners-up but we know why we didn't win: we lost time at the start of the race with a less aggressive strategy than the eventual winners, and then we had trouble overtaking on this twisty, narrow track. To compensate for this, the drivers and the mechanics showed a lot of steel and determination to make up time on the track and during the pit stops. We can be pleased to have recorded our best result of the season. It's encouraging for the next few events.'
Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal
'The main thing for me is that this is our best result of the year. The fact we secured pole position shows that the car has the performance. We have to acknowledge that the no.31 Rebellion had a better race strategy than us. We put things right after the first stint, but there was already quite a substantial gap. Gustavo then got stuck behind Roman Rusinov for 29 laps. That cost us around thirty seconds and perhaps the race as well. Once we get over the disappointment of 'only' finishing second, we can take a lot of positives from this first round outside of Europe. On his first race with the no.36 crew, André made a telling contribution; the trio formed with Nicolas and Gustavo has established bit of momentum for the rest of the season.'
Signatech Alpine no.36 car
'Overall, it's a good result for the team, with a solid performance and André has fitted into the crew very well. We spent a good part of the race trying to catch up to the no.31, which was quicker at the start of the race. The gap then stabilised and we made up ground at the end of the race, but not enough to really trouble them. Congratulations to the mechanics, who were the quickest in the pit lane today! I hope we can get back onto the top step of the podium soon!'
'It was a very intense weekend. We were confident before the start and were a bit surprised not to have better race pace. Throughout the six hours, we fought hard to close the gap on the leaders. We were second for long periods and then third, before a little bit of good fortune meant we recovered second spot. We now have two weeks to prepare for Austin, my home round!'
'I gave everything I could in my two stints! The conditions weren't ideal; it was very hot when I was driving and I think that tended to accentuate the oversteering. At the start, I didn't push too hard because I wanted to look after my tyres over both stints. The closer that I got to the end, the more I pushed. I really wanted to do the maximum for the team.'
6 Hours of Mexico – LMP2
1.Vaillante Rebellion no.31 – 219 laps
2.Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 +26.091
3.CEFC Manor TRS Racing no.24 +5.562
4.G-Drive Racing no. 26 +35.885
5.Vaillante Rebellion no.13 +1 lap
6.Jackie Chan DC Racing no.37 +2.497
7.TDS Racing no.28 +19.241
8.CEFC Manor TRS Racing no.25 +1 lap
9.Jackie Chan DC Racing no.38 +6 laps
FIA Endurance LMP2 'Teams' Trophy
1.Jackie Chan DC Racing no.38 – 118 points
2.Vaillante Rebellion no.31 – 95 points
3.Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 – 76 points
4.Jackie Chan DC Racing no.37 – 59 points
5.G-Drive Racing no.26 – 58 points
6.CEFC Manor TRS Racing no.24 – 55 points
7.Vaillante Rebellion no.13 – 36 points
8.TDS Racing no.28 – 27 points
9.CEFC Manor TRS Racing no.25 – 20 points