Everything started with difficult weather conditions on the Le Mans race track! On Saturday afternoon a heavy shower make the teams changed their plans and have to switch to wet-weather tyres for the beginning of the race. The first laps where done behind the safety car! 84 years that the race didn’t start in those conditions.
Those conditions didn’t prevent the Alpine’s cars n°36 and 35 to held the 1st and the second position after 1 hour.
During the first part of the race, strategy about the tires changes was crucial as the weather forecast where uncertain. Finally the choice done by the Alpine’s team was not the good one and the cars has to come back into the pit an extra time. So after 2 hours, the two cars were down to the 12th and 15th positions.
After those choices, weather forecast where better and pilots could share the wheels trying to get higher in the ranking. After one quarter of the race, n°36 car was back at the 2nd place.
Finally overnight several strategic choices according to the race incident were wisely done. That helps Nicolas Lapierre to grab the first position. During the night, on the N°35 car, Ho-Pin Tung did an excellent job by placing the car at the 6th position.
Everything was well managed during the night and the performances of our pilots were applauded by the fans gathered in the garage. Ho-Pin Tung left the wheel to Nelson Panciatici. He kept the pace and placed the car n°35 at the 4th place when the sun came up on Sunday. However due to mechanical problem, he crashed the car off the track. There was no choice than retiring.
Nelson Panciatici: "It's obviously frustrating to end the race like that. We don't really know what happened to the car, but I found myself without brakes coming into the Forza chicane. I ran across the gravel and into the wall. It's a shame because we were making up good ground and had the potential to hunt down a place on the podium."
After that, the whole team came back stronger and shifted the attention to the n°36 car, which held a one-lap lead at that stage. During all Sunday, the objective for the three pilots Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes was to secure the position and finish the race.
Nicolas Lapierre was finally achieving the last laps and he had the honour of crossing the finish line.
All Alpine team members could celebrate that success in the historical race of Le Mans.
Pilots gave their impressions after the race:
Nicolas Lapierre: "This is a very emotional win for me.[…] In the end, I think this win is as much down to the qualities of the team and my team-mates as it is to my own performance. Gustavo and Stéphane did an incredible job; they adopted the mindset you need to do well at Le Mans.”
Gustavo Menezes: "My knowledge of Le Mans was limited to the videos I had seen on the Internet, but it was one of my life's ambitions to race here. Winning on my first appearance is totally incredible.”
Stéphane Richelmi: "For the last three weeks, the team has done a great job preparing for this 24 Hours of Le Mans. It's just incredible to be able to bring home this win for them and for Alpine."