A month after the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) resumes with the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on July 22-24. After securing the LMP2 spoils at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans in the N°36 Signatech-Alpine, Stephane and his team mates will be looking to build on their lead in their class.
After finishing at the very top of the LMP2 class with the Alpine A460 at June’s Le Mans 24 Hours, Philippe Sinault, Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes savoured every instant of the post-race celebrations when tens of thousands of spectators joined in the singing of the Marseillaise.
That success was the first objective of the 2016 campaign but the FIA World Endurance Championship itself still has a very long way to go and competitive action resumes this weekend with the final European clash of the year, the 6 Hours of Nürburgring. After that, the series will continue with visits to Mexico, the USA, Japan, China and Bahrain.
With three rounds completed, Lapierre / Richelmi / Menezes (87 points) enjoy a 23-point lead over their closest pursuers in the LMP2 Endurance Trophy classification. After coming fourth at Silverstone, then winning their class at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, the class’s pace-setters will be out to continue on their momentum in the N°36 prototype. Depending on how the race unfolds, a win, a podium finish or even a strong points haul would all be satisfying conclusions to the weekend in Germany.
To achieve these goals, all three drivers will naturally need to produce polished performances at the Nürburgring which places the emphasis on driver skill, while the weather is often fickle in the Eifel Mountains at this time of year. Sunday’s race is due to start at 1pm local time.
Stéphane Richelmi: “Like David, I was thrilled to take part in the Le Mans Classic. We are in the process of writing a new chapter in Alpine’s history and I think it is important to understand the make’s legendary cars like the M65. Back then, Alpine favoured low fuel consumption with small engines and streamlined bodies. It was an early vision of the need for environmentally-friendly cars! I’m glad to be going back to the Nürburgring. It’s an all-round challenge; a bit like the old days although we won’t be using the long circuit. There are some features that enable the way you drive to make a difference but any errors can be costly. I always fear the weather there but there’s nothing you can do about that! Along with Nicolas and Gustavo, we feel confident and we’ve prepared for the 6 Hours of Nürburgring like we would do for any other race, making full use of the experience we have gained. After 24 hours racing at Le Mans, I feel I have improved in terms of fuel and tyre management. We need to stay focused and keep up the good work. Our aim for the second half of the season is to win the title.”