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Freitag, 14 April 2017 23:37

Signatech Alpine 2017 WEC Season

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Signatech Alpine Matmut FIA World Endurance Championship 2017.

« After an exceptional 2016 season, during which the team won four races – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and both LMP2 titles, Alpine is competing again in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Motorsport is hard-coded in our DNA and the Alpine A470s will be tasked with supporting the commercial launch of our new Alpine A110. As is the case every year, we have tried to put forward our strongest suit and especially this season, to live up to our status as reigning champions. Our goals are clear : we want to keep winning in style and provide further excitement for Alpine fans all around the world. » Bernard Ollivier, Alpine Deputy Managing Director

« For 2017, the LMP2 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship has undergone a substantial transformation with the introduction of a new generation of more powerful cars, which are more aerodynamically efficient. It is therefore going to be a major challenge for the Signatech Alpine Matmut team, especially as the level of our rivals has never been so high. All of this is extremely motivating for the team, for the engineers, the mechanics and the drivers. We are all share the same determination to win and secure further success for Alpine. » Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal

2017 PROGRAMME

Year after year, Alpine strengthens its sporting commitment to Endurance racing. For the 2017 season, two new Alpine A470s – sporting the traditional numbers 35 and 36 – feature on the list of entrants for the FIA World Endurance Championship, in the LMP2 category.

The reigning world champion, the no.36 car will be looking to retain its title. The basic crew is made up of the Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre and the American Gustavo Menezes, joined this year by the Briton Matt Rao.

However, Nicolas has been released by Alpine to compete in the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so that he may challenge for outright victory in the LMP1-H class. For these two races, Romain Dumas will join the Signatech Alpine Matmut line-up, bringing his huge experience and turn of speed.

In the no.35 car, Nelson Panciatici is set to pursue his career with the French team. He will be rejoined by one of his former team-mates: Pierre Ragues, part of the team that won the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) title in 2013. The two Frenchmen will compete alongside the Brazilian André Negrão, who will be making his debut in Endurance after a fi ne career in single-seater racing.

These two crews have been formed in compliance with the regulations, which require at least one «Silver» category driver in each LMP2 car.

ALPINE A470

For the 2017 season, the LMP2 category has undergone a major transformation, with the application of new technical regulations and a generation of cars with substantially improved performance.

Homologated by the FIA, the chassis of the Alpine A470 is powered by a 600bhp V8 engine, which has been provided by Gibson Technology and is identical for all competitors in the category.

The monocoque design and some mechanical components – such as the gearbox – are derived from the Alpine A460. Oreca’s work focused in particular on integrating the new powertrain and on aerodynamics. Obtained following extensive work using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), the contours of the A470 reveal a level of refinement never previously attained on cars in the LMP2 category.

Estimates made using simulations suggest that the cars will gain three to four seconds per lap on «traditional» circuits and between eight and ten seconds per lap on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit. Maximum speed is expected to be close to 330kph.

TECHNICAL DATAS

CHASSIS
Structure ....................................Carbon, honeycomb monocoque
Bodywork .................................. Carbon/kevlar
Suspension ................................Double wishbone with pushrods, PKM shock absorbers
Steering .....................................Electric power-assisted
Length .......................................4,745mm
Width ........................................1,895mm
Height .......................................1,045mm
Front track ................................1,570mm
Rear track ................................ 1,550mm
Wheelbase ............................... 3,005mm
Weight ......................................930kg

ENGINE
Type .........................................Gibson GK-428
Confi guration ........................... Normally-aspirated V8 at 90°
Capacity ...................................4,200cc
Maximum power ........................603bhp
Maximum engine speed .............9,000rpm
Lubrication ................................Dry sump/multi-stage oil pump
Electronic control unit ................Cosworth

GEARBOX
Make ...........................................Xtrac
Type ............................................Magnesium housing, transversally-mounted
Gearshift .................................... Steering-wheel mounted paddles
Speeds .......................................6 + reverse

WHEELS
Tyres ......................................Dunlop 30-68/R18 (front) and 31-71/R18 (rear)
Front wheel rims .................... 12.5’’x18’’
Rear wheel rims ......................13’’x18’’

BRAKES
Discs .........................................Ventilated carbon
Callipers .....................................Six-piston one-piece

SAFETY
Harness belt .............................Six-point safety harness adapted to Hans® system
Fuel tank ..................................75-litre safety rubber tank with built-in reserve system

SIGNATECH-ALPINE

Founded in 1990 when it was known as Signature, the Signatech team has been supplying Alpine with technical, sporting and logistics support for its racing programme since 2013.

The history of the Signatech Group was initially tied to Formula 3, in which it won several national and international titles and through which it made key contributions to the careers of some notable drivers, including Benoit Tréluyer, Loïc Duval, Nicolas Lapierre, Romain Grosjean and Edoardo Mortara. A substantial shift was made in 2009, when the team first competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Based in Bourges, in the heart of France, the Signatech Group employs around forty people in four departments: Racing, Engineering, Events Management and Vintage Vehicles (restoration).

Two workshops, covering a total surface area of 2,500m2, are dedicated to designing, building and running racing cars. The facilities include a design office equipped with 3D Solidworks CAD solution, a bodywork/composite fibre department and a mechanical parts production workshop. An Ellip6 simulator is used for driver training and to devise technical simulation programmes.

Signatech’s competitive record includes 19 titles, 83 race wins, 51 pole positions, 492 podium finishes and 50 lap records, acquired in single-seater racing and Endurance.

MANAGEMENT

Team Principal Philippe Sinault
Technical Director Lionel Chevalier
Race engineer for no.36 Olivier Bacchis
Race engineer for no.35 Thomas Tribotte

Drivers

NICOLAS LAPIERRE
ROMAIN DUMAS
GUSTAVO MENEZES
MATT RAO
NELSON PANCIATICI
PIERRE RAGUES
ANDRÉ NEGRÃO

KEY POINTS OF THE FIA WEC

/The FIA WEC competitors are split into four categories : the prototypes in LMP1 and LMP2 – the latter being the category in which the Alpine A470s compete – and the GTs in LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am

/ The LMP2 category has the largest line-up this season, with 10 cars out of a total of 28 entrants.

/ LMP2 prototypes (Le Mans Prototype 2) are racing cars which do not require a minimum production run. They can be open- or closed-cockpit cars. Their maximum retail price is capped by the regulations.

/ The LMP2s (Le Mans Prototype 2) are racing cars with no minimum production required. Competitors must use one of the four chassis homologated by the FIA.

/ The engines used in LMP2 are identical for all the competitors. They all use a Gibson GK428 V8 engine. The ECU, supplied by Cosworth, is also standardised.

/ Private testing is is limited to ten days per car in LMP2.

/ The LMP2 race numbers are white against a blue background

/ Each crew competing in LMP2 must include at least one Silver or Bronze category driver. Driver classification is defined by the FIA according to past results.

/ The use of slick tyres is limited for six hour races: three sets for free practice and four for qualifying and the race. There is no imposed tyre manufacturer, but all the LMP2 teams use Dunlop tyres.

/ For the six hour races, qualifying is held during a 20 minute session, during which two nominated drivers set times, including a «Silver» category driver. The time recorded is the average of the fastest lap times of the two drivers.

/ Points are awarded to competitors classified at the end of a race: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points for the top ten, then 0.5 points for competitors finishing lower down the order. A bonus point is awarded for pole position (best lap time outright) in each category. Double points awarded are for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

/ A driver must spend at least 1hr 15min on track in order to score points. Maximum driving time is set at 3hrs 30min per driver (for the six hour races). If the ambient temperature is higher than 32°C, the maximum consecutive driving time is limited to 80 minutes.

/ The FIA World Endurance Championship Drivers’ title is restricted to LMP1 and LMP2 drivers (combined standings for both LMP categories).

/ At the end of the season, the best LMP2 drivers and teams win FIA Endurance Trophies.

2017 CALENDAR

  • 10 April 6 Hours of Silverstone GBR
  • 6 May 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps BEL
  • 4 June 24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day FRA
  • 17-18 June 24 Hours of Mans FRA
  • 16 July 6 Hours of Nürburgring DEU
  • 3 September 6 Hours of Mexico MEX
  • 16 September 6 Hours of Austin USA
  • 15 October 6 Hours of Fuji JPN
  • 5 November 6 Hours of Shanghai CHN
  • 18 November 6 Hours of Bahrain BHR

ALPINE IN ENDURANCE

In order to support the development of his brand, Jean Rédélé has always put his faith in racing. Whether in rallying, single-seater racing or endurance, Alpine cars have impressed, whilst also winning over the fans. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this passion for the brand developed in two stages: the «blue period» between 1963 and 1969 and the «yellow period» between 1973 and 1978. And now, the third chapter of this love affair is being written right in front of our eyes!

« THE FASTEST LITRE OF PETROL IN THE WORLD »

DIn 1962, Jean Rédélé began development of the Alpine M63 with the 24 Hours of Le Mans in his sights. None of the three cars entered in 1963 made it to the end, but the performances of these prototypes – powered by a little 996cc Gordini engine – were impressive.

The adventure continued with a strategy based on « ingenious economy ». Opting to focus on aerodynamic performance and reduced capacity, Alpine went after the « Index of Thermal Effi ciency » and « Index of Performance » trophies. In these categories, the brand won several times at Le Mans. At the other circuits, it scored a host of class wins before its fi rst outright win was claimed by Mauro and Lucien Bianchi in the M65 at the 500 kilometres of Nürburgring in 1965.

The arrival of the Alpine A210 marked a turning point. Whilst appearing similar to the M65, this model fi nished by convincing Renault to invest in the development of a three-litre V8 engine capable of targeting outright victory... Although the fi rst attempts of the ‘big’ A211 and A220 met with disappointment, the project continued and developed.

VICTORY AT LE MANS !

In 1973, Renault took over control of Alpine. The A440 was therefore presented under the name «Renault Alpine». The aims of the programme were clear : Alpine must win the newly-created European Two-Litre Sports Car Championship before developing a car capable of winning at Le Mans. The Renault Alpine A440 was refined, becoming the A441. It amassed a series of race wins and claimed the European title with Alain Serpaggi in 1974. A new 1996cc turbo engine, developing some 490bhp, was then installed in the chassis and the car was renamed the A442.

Following the creation of the Renault Sport entity, significant resources were deployed to take part in the World Championship for Makes in 1976. The only A442 competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans secured pole position before retiring during the race.

Counting on the experience acquired, Renault Sport decided to concentrate exclusively on Le Mans. Success finally arrived in 1978. Four cars were entered, with the Alpine A442B driven by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi winning the race! Having achieved its goals, Renault switched its involvement to Formula 1.

ALPINE STRIKES BACK !

Thirty-five years later, Alpine returned to racing in order to support the brand’s renaissance. The new Alpine A450 beat its rivals to claim two consecutive titles in the European Le Mans Series (2013-2014) and an LMP2 podium finish at the 2014 24 Hours of Mans (7th overall). 2015 witnessed the arrival of the Signatech-Alpine team in the FIA WEC, coming first in the LMP2 category in Shanghai and fi nishing fourth overall in the championship.

In 2016, the team entered two new closed-cockpit A460 prototypes. Although the no.35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine suffered a chronic run of bad luck, the no.36 Signatech-Alpine had an exceptional season. The crew of Lapierre, Menezes and Richelmi won at Spa-Francorchamps, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Nürburgring and in Austin. With one race still to go, Alpine won the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in Shanghai! After nine races, the no.36 car amassed a total of seven podium finishes.

On 17 June 2017, Alpine will line up at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the sixteenth time. The A470s will be the 60th and 61st cars offi cially entered at the world famous Le Mans race.

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