Two Alpine A460 prototypes hunting for success in 2016 FIA world
Mar 24, 2016 AUTHOR: Richelmi.com
Two Alpine A460 prototypes hunting for success in 2016 FIA world
Alpine has revealed the two Alpine A460s that will contest the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Alpine’s two crews (N°35: Panciatici / Cheng / Tung, N°36: Lapierre / Menezes / Richelmi) have their sights set on LMP2 victory.
Signatech-Alpine to make its first public appearance of 2016 at Le Castellet, France, which is hosting a two-day pre-season test for all registered teams (March 25-26).
Signatech-Alpine today took the wraps off its two Alpine A460s at Le Castellet, France.
The name of the new prototype continues the series which began with the A440 in the 1970s and which echoes Alpine’s 60th anniversary celebrations of 2015.
With new LM P2 regulations due to come into force in 2017, the Alpine A460 features a new FIA-homologated chassis. Compared with its predecessor, it has a closed cockpit for enhanced driver safety and aerodynamic efficiency. It is the first closed-cockpit Alpine since the A220 of 1969.
The Alpine A460 is powered by the same 4.5-litre V8 as the A450b. This Renault-Nissan Alliance powerplant delivers more than 550 horsepower and drives through a six-speed sequential gearbox.
The two Alpine A460s were unveiled alongside the Alpine Vision and Alpine Célébration show cars and sport a blue and orange livery, the colours chosen by Alpine since its motor racing comeback in 2013. The cars will be distinguishable by national flags: French for the N°36 prototype, and Chinese for the N°35 prototype.
The latter (entered under the name of Baxi DC Racing Alpine) will be in the hands of Frenchman Nelson Panciatici – a cornerstone of the team since the programme’s early days in 2013 – and Chinese drivers David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung. Formed by SR-Jackie Chan and David Cheng, DC Racing won several Asian Le Mans Series titles before joining forces for the 2016 FIA WEC campaign with Signatech-Alpine who will run the programme’s technical, sporting and logistical sides.
The N°36 car – the number which claimed back-to-back ELMS crowns in 2013 and 2014, as well as a top-three finish in the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2014 – will be shared by three newcomers to the Alpine fold, namely Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre, the USA’s Gustavo Menezes and Monegasque Stéphane Richelmi.
Being able to run two top-flight crews will allow Signatech-Alpine to step up its ambitions for its second season in endurance racing’s premier series. After winning last year’s 6 Hours of Shanghai and coming fourth in the 2015 FIA WEC (LMP2), the team is looking to continue to make progress with two cars capable of challenging for victory at every round.
Tomorrow will see Signatech-Alpine join the rest of the 2016 FIA WEC field for a two-day test ahead of the championship’s opening round, namely the 6 Hours of Silverstone in Great Britain on April 15-17.
Bernard Ollivier, Deputy Managing Director, Alpine: “After claiming back-to-back titles in the European Le Mans Series in 2013 and 2014, Signatech-Alpine showcased its professionalism and potential at world level in 2015 and has set its sights higher still in 2016. This year, the team is contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship with two new A460 prototypes – one of which will be run in association with the Chinese outfit DC Racing – and a line-up of six talented drivers. Under the leadership of Philippe Sinault, Signatech-Alpine will continue to fuel the passion of Alpine fans worldwide.”
Philippe Sinault, Team Principal, Signatech-Alpine: “Alpine’s commitment to endurance racing is being stepped up year after year. Last season, our first at FIA WEC level, was marked by a class win at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. This year, as we seek to add to our record, there is much about the team that is new, from our driver line-up and cars to the way we are organised. We are proud to have forged an association with DC Racing which means we are able to run two A460s. This is an obvious advantage and opens up fresh opportunities in terms of race strategy. It’s now down to us to harness all this potential to achieve even more success for Alpine.”
ALPINE A460 – TECHNICAL DATA
Carbon honeycomb monocoque
Carbon / Kevlar
Double wishbones with push rods
Electric power steering
550 hp (410 kW)
Dry sump / staged oil pump
Transversely mounted, magnesium casing
Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts, pneumatic
Number of speeds
Six forward speeds plus reverse
WHEELS AND TYRES
Dunlop, 30-65/R18 (front) and 31-71/R18 (rear)
12.5” x 18”
13” x 18’”
Vented, carbon, Brembo Ø 380 x 37 mm
Vented, carbon, Brembo Ø 355 x 37 mm
Brembo, six-pot monobloc
Six points, suitable for use with HANS®
75-litre safety tank with built-in reserve
ALPINE’S 2016 DRIVER LINE-UP
N°35 Alpine A460: Nelson Panciatici / David Cheng / Ho-Pin Tung
Nelson Panciatici, 27, is the son of a former rally driver and was taken under the wing of the Renault Driver Development programme after making a name for himself in Formula Renault 2.0. Very soon, he was knocking on the door of Formula 1 before deciding instead to turn his attention to endurance racing in 2012. With Signatech-Alpine, he has contributed to two ELMS titles, a top-three finish at Le Mans and the team’s first FIA WEC victory.
David Cheng, 26, made his debut in karting before climbing the single-seater ladder in the USA and Asia. His successful conversion to GT and prototype racing led him to form his own team – DC Racing – in association with Jackie Chan. In its first year, 2015, DC Racing won the LMP3 class in the Asian Le Mans Series with David Cheng as part of the driver line-up.
Netherlands-born Ho-Pin Tung, 33, kicked off his career in Europe before winning the inaugural Asian Formula BMW championship. He was the first Chinese driver to pilot a Formula 1 car, in 2003. In 2010, he signed for Renault F1 Team before gradually steering his career towards endurance racing. He has won two Asian Le Mans Series titles.
French all-rounder Nicolas Lapierre, 31, boasts an enviable record. He won the 2003 Macau Grand Prix with Signature, and victory in the inaugural A1 GP attracted the attention of the leading LMP1 teams. He was recruited by Oreca, then Toyota, with whom he won five WEC races outright. In 2015, he returned to LMP2 racing and won the class at Le Mans.
One of North America’s latest crop of talented young drivers, Gustavo Menezes, 21, has solid experience in fiercely-fought competitions like Formula Renault 2.0, the Star Mazda series and Formula 3. The Californian also has experience of endurance racing in North America’s USCC (United SportsCar Championship). He was notably fourth in class at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Like team-mate Nelson Panciatici, Stéphane Richelmi, 26, is the son of a talented rally driver who preferred to take up circuit racing. His career has taken him from karting to Formula Renault 2.0, Formula 3 and GP2 Series, the final stepping stone before Formula 1. In 2014, his third season in the latter saw him win in the streets of Monaco in addition to contributing to Dams’ title at the end of the season. He made his endurance racing debut in 2014 (GT3).
2016 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar
March 25-26: Prologue Test, Le Castellet (France)
April 17: 6 Hours of Silverstone (Great Britain)
May 7: WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)
June 5: Le Mans Test Day (France)
June 18-19: Le Mans 24 Hours (France)
July 24: 6 Hours of Nürburgring (Germany)
September 3: 6 Hours of Mexico (Mexico)
September 17: 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas (USA)
October 16: 6 Hours of Fuji (Japan)
November 6: 6 Hours of Shanghai (China)
November 19: 6 Hours of Bahrain