In 2014, the Alpine A450 will be shared by Frenchmen Nelson Panciatici and Paul-Loup Chatin, plus Britain’s Oliver Webb to defend the 2013 the 2013 European Le Mans Series crown.
Thirty-five years after withdrawing from motorsport following its win in the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours, Alpine made its eagerly-awaited return to circuit racing in 2013 – and promptly triumphed in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
With an ambitious programme ahead as it prepares for the launch of the new ‘Berlinette of the 21st Century’ (due to go on sale in 2016), Alpine is looking to defend its title this season. Three men will share the driving during what will be longer, four-hour races this year, with the outgoing ELMS champ Nelson Panciatici joined by Paul-Loup Chatin (Alpine’s ‘Junior’ driver in 2013)and ex-Formula Renault 3.5 Series runner Oliver Webb.
This year’s campaign, which is structured around the Le Mans 24 Hours, with the ELMS as its backbone, will also herald the arrival of new partners, such as Dieppe Maritime, a conglomeration of urban districts in the Dieppe region, long-time home of the Alpine brand. The Team keeps on working with Michelin, a long standing partner, which was involved in Alpine’s previous successes during the 1960’s and ‘70s.
“Humility has always been a hallmark of our brand and it continued to underpin our approach when we returned to endurance racing last season,” says Alpine Director Bernard Ollivier. “The objective of the programme’s first year was to reacquaint ourselves with the discipline. This season, our aim is to defend our European title right from the opening round at Silverstone, whilst the other key target will be to showcase our potential and performance in the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
“As defending champions, it would be inconceivable not to want to retain our ELMS title,” notes Signatech-Alpine Team Principal Philippe Sinault. “Our team received tremendous support throughout 2013, and it was fantastic to be able to share our success with everyone. In 2014, we need to confirm that promise as we continue to lay the foundations for Alpine’s renaissance. Season two ushers in a number of changes, including the promotion of our ‘Junior’ driver Paul-Loup Chatin to the main squad and the arrival of Britain’s Oliver Webb alongside Nelson Panciatici. We will similarly reveal some aesthetic modifications at Silverstone that are sure to please Alpine’s fans.”
The season got underway at the beginning of April with two days of testing at Paul Ricard, France. Notwithstanding a collision in the first session – which gave the technical staff a chance to demonstrate their talent as they restored the Alpine A450 to full health – Signatech-Alpine posted the fourth-fastest lap time and, crucially, completed a high number of laps.
The 2013 ELMS Champion Nelson Panciatici recalls the horrendous weather that marked last year’s visit to Silverstone: “We were fast, but the race was interrupted for a long time and ultimately halted early because of the rain. It was the most frustrating event of the season. This time round, we’re out for revenge. The target is victory and a big points haul!”
Available from Veloce! Alpine Renault – The fabulous berlinettes
By Roy Smith
The berlinettes were fragile, beautifully designed, lightweight road rockets. For the first time, Alpine Renault enthusiasts around the world can read the complete history of these cars in English.
This important new book is not just for owners of Alpine Renaults, but for all those interested in rallying and its spectacular period of rapid development in the late 1960s and early '70s. Hear from the men who built the cars, some of the great drivers who became famous driving them, the team manager, the Rédélé family – creators of the car – and the mechanics who kept the cars going. The story covers the concept, the first cars, the early road cars, and their entry into competition on the European rallying circuit, with full charted documentary details.
The Alpine A110 berlinette was a car born to compete, born to win. This is its story.