ALPINE CLAIMS PODIUM FINISH TO MOVE ONE STEP CLOSER TO TITLE !
Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes finished third at the 6 Hours of Fuji to claim their sixth consecutive podium of the season!
The no.36 Signatech-Alpine will have a chance to secure the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 title at the next round, held in Shanghai (6 November).
After devoting free practice to improving the balance of the Alpine A460s at the Fuji Speedway, Gustavo Menezes and Nicolas Lapierre qualified second in the no.36 Signatech-Alpine, missing out on pole position by just two tenths.
The competitors were greeted with fine weather on Sunday morning as the race began at 11am local time. The race began at a hectic pace, with a series of close fights throughout the field.
Nicolas was battling hard with the leaders, he stopped to give the drive to Stéphane in 3rd place. Aiming to make one fewer pit stop, the team went for a different strategy as Stéphane took over from Nicolas at the end of the first stint. Stephane in new tires had to make his way through the field overtaking four cars which have only refuelled, losing less time in pit. On his 2nd stint, he was to defend his position the best he could his position from the others now fitted of new tires.
Then Gustavo got behind the wheel for his double stint. Like his team-mates, he defended his place in the field for all his worth. Once, he was forced to go off track by the no.44 Manor and leapt back onto the tarmac across the grass and a tough kerb, he literally jumped !
Nicolas Lapierre remained in the top three until the chequered flag, ready to seize any opportunities provided by the no.26 G-Drive or the no.43 RGR. In the end, third place in the LMP2 category was an excellent result for the Signatech-Alpine crew, who only lost three points to their direct rivals in the championship.
Stéphane Richelmi: “We can be fairly pleased, especially as G-Drive’s win cost RGR important points for the championship! I had never raced here before, but it wasn’t especially difficult because we had done a lot of work on the simulator. The race was decided largely by who managed tyre wear most effectively. My second stint was tough, because I was forced off the racing line by one of the GTs. My tyres became dirty as a result and I struggled to find the same balance after that.”
The next round of the FIA WEC will be held on 6 November in Shanghai.