After a well deserved winter break, the 2016 FIA WEC officially starts on the Paul Ricard track for the annual prologue, always full of novelties. It is the opportunity to discover the new LMP1, LMP2 and GT in official testing. Stéphane gets ready to begin his first season behind the wheel of the latest Alpine prototype A460, with the support of the Signatech team. Building on the experience got in Blancpain Sprint and Endurance Series with the team WRT Audi in 2015, Stéphane rediscovers in a way, his vocation, the single-seater cars.
The number 36 are filled of high ambitions for this year, with a crew constituted of the experimented Nicolas Lapierre, a promising Silver driver (mandatory in WEC) Gustavo Menezes, and Stéphane, with for objective a victory in this World Endurance Championship. The car number 35 aligned under the Baxi DC Racing will be driven by Nelson Panciatici, David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung.
Concerning the technical characteristics of this new car, it uses a 4,5L V8 Nissan engine with a major aerodynamic upgrade, a closed cockpit. The A460 already meets some criteria of the new LMP2 regulation which will comes into effect or the 2017 season.
This weekend, the goal of the Prologue was the optimization of the set-up already begun upstream during the tests in Spain two weeks ago. The reveal of both Alpine A460 took place on Thursday evening while Friday and Saturday were dedicated to gather in some mileage.
After the first laps, the sensations were good and the lap times were going down, with the N35 and N36 occupying the top of the ranking at the lunch break. For the afternoon, the plan was to make some race stints, with the full tank. Thanks to 90 laps covered of 5,8 km, the team was able to validated the best compromises between different driving styles and tires’ degradation , both key points in endurance races.
The following morning, they were looking for the performance with several new sets of tires put in a row. The best laptime was realized by Nicolas in 1 ‘ 46 “974 and it will stay as the best one in the class of these two days of testings. Stéphane made a 1’47’’190, so he is happy of his understanding of the car.
The lights are green before the first race which will take place on April 17th on the prestigious English track of Silverstone.