The 4th of September, Mexico city was hosting its first race of the World Endurance championship.
After exciting qualification race, the two Alpine cars were positioned 2nd and 9th at the Grid.
Gustavo Menezes and Nelson Panciatici were nominated to start in their respective Alpine A460s. The Californian succeeded in steering clear of the early tangles to keep the N°36 car up with the leading pack, while the Parisian fought back to figure as high as fourth in the N°35 prototype!
The Monaco driver Stéphane Richelmi, replaced Gustavo Menezes at the wheel of the #36 and soon appeared at the top of the LMP2 leaderboard and was in front at the race’s halfway point, although the gaps were still small at this stage.
The rain appeared over the Mexican race track after 4h of race. Alpine Signatech car #36 changed the tyres and Nicolas Lapierre took place in the car.
Finally as a dry line started to appear, the N°36 prototype fell back to third spot after being forced to comply with a drive-through penalty due to an earlier pit stop infringement. There was then more drama just 35 minutes from the chequered flag when a problem for the front-running G-Drive car handed second place to Nicolas Lapierre who suddenly found himself just 10 seconds adrift of the leading car (RGR).
As light rain began to fall again, the Alpine driver made a concerted effort and successfully narrowed the gap. Hampered by traffic and yellow flags, however, he failed to find a way past and had to settle for second place at the finish, just 1.985s short of the victory.
The outcome sees Signatech-Alpine maintain its lead in the provisional championship standings. It is now 30 points clear of its closest challenger
The next round of the 2016 FIA WEC will take teams to Austin, Texas, USA, for Gustavo Menezes’ home race on September 15-17.
Bernard Ollivier (Deputy Managing Director, Alpine): “Sometimes, second place can feel like a victory, and that was the case in Mexico.”
Philippe Sinault (Team Principal, Signatech-Alpine): We put in another polished race and I am especially pleased with the end result because we kicked off the week with a small performance deficit to our main rivals. Our strength was that we managed to stay focused.”
Gustavo Menezes: “It was another great race for the team.”
Stéphane Richelmi: “We know we can’t win every race! We were running well until it started to rain which forced us to rethink our strategy.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “We fought hard and second place isn’t a bad result. […] I feel optimistic for the upcoming races. They should suit our strengths.”