Bahco World

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For the 3rd year running, the #36 Signatech Alpine team started the 6 Hours of Bahrain in pole position as they prepared for the 9th and final race of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship.

As the pilots prepared for the final race of the season, the team comfortably sat in 3rd place on the LMP2 table. The trio were still in contention for the world title and a victory at the Sakhir International Circuit would give them the chance to retain their championship.

While the free practice sessions from André Negrão and Gustavo Menezes set an impressive average time of 1:47.227, this success was unfortunately not repeated during the 6-hour race.

Nicolas Lapierre took the wheel for the first stint which had all the makings of an epic race as Signatech Alpine battled to hold their championship, but a combination of traffic problems and the premature wearing of the car’s hard tyres marred their efforts. This meant that Lapierre was unable to put up a fight against his opponents as they overtook and headed out in pole position.

After the initial setback, the entire team, from the drivers to the pit crew worked hard to establish a new tactic as Lapierre entered the pit and swiftly left in 7th place, with two medium tyres fitted on the left. Lapierre was not able to be as adventurous and maintained a pace which allowed him to manage the condition of his tyres as he finished his triple stint.

As day turned to night over the Sakhir International Circuit, André Negrão took the pilot’s seat and immediately went on the attack, working his way up the field clinically as he completed his double stint with few problems. This led to Gustavo Menezes double stint who also surged up the rankings and the combined efforts of these pilots helped the #36 car speed back up to 4th place.

With just under 90 minutes left of the race, the wheel was once again Lapierre’s. However, despite his best efforts, the #36 car couldn’t get out of fourth place as the last chequered flag of the season heralded the end of the Championship.

Commenting on the result in Bahrain, Gustavo Menezes said:

“We gave our all, although we knew that our chances were slim. Nico did a good job in his first stint to stay among the leaders, but it was difficult to know exactly where we were in relation to the other cars, given that we were on a different strategy. André was fast on his stints and I only had to try and reduce the gap. As I have done all year, I gave it absolutely everything out there. I'm pleased to have made progress this season by accumulating more experience.”

While finishing the race in 4th didn’t give Signatech Alpine’s #36 team the points they needed to defend their title, it did secure their place on the podium. As the LMP2 championship standings were announced, the entire team stood proudly in third place.

The race ended with season champions Vaillante Rebellion on top of the podium for both the race and the championship as Jackie Chan DC Racing took second place in both as well. Finally, Signatech Alpine took the third spot on the podium as they secured a 66-point lead over 4th and missed the top spot by 35 points.

Bernard Oliver, Alpine’s Deputy Managing Director commented on the season, saying:

“Despite this frustrating result, everyone gave their absolute maximum and the team stayed completely united throughout. That is what has helped us to put together a fine series of podiums, even if we always aimed for more. Our two rivals have been very consistent. They deserved to beat us in this race and this season. This year, the level of the teams, engineers and drivers has gone up a notch in LMP2”

Although they had to relinquish their title, five podium positions and a victory shows that the trio of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustave Menezes and André Negrão have had an exceptional season.