The penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) will be held this weekend at the Shanghai racetrack.
For Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and André Negrão, the aim will be to secure another win for the no.36 Alpine A470 in order to take the world title race to the final round!
Lost amidst the rain and fog three weeks ago in Japan, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) field has now crossed the East China Sea to set up in the Shanghai paddock. Ahead of the season finale in Bahrain (18 November), the penultimate round of the championship will be essential for the various title contenders.
Competing in the LMP2 category, the Signatech Alpine Matmut team is enjoying a positive run of form. Third at the Nürburgring, the no.36 Alpine A470 then finished as runner-up in Mexico before winning in Austin and finished second again in Fuji. In four races, the French squad has therefore made up 23 points on the leaders of the overall standings, who are now only 20 points ahead.
Mathematically, the title can only be won by one of three crews: Jackie Chan DC Racing no.38 (145 points), Vaillante Rebellion no.31 (135 points) and Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 (120 points). Perfectly comfortable in the role of hunter, Alpine can be sure that its drivers, engineers and mechanics are incredibly motivated to score maximum points in China.
Philippe Sinault’s team will be pleased to return to the Shanghai track, the venue for a few of their great exploits. In 2015, Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Tom Dillmann secured Signatech Alpine’s first ever race win in the World Championship in the Alpine A450b, finishing a full lap ahead of the second-placed car. Last year, Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Stéphane Richelmi were content to finish in fourth place, sufficient for them to claim the world title ahead of the season finale in Bahrain.
Everyone is aware, however, that previous performances provide no guarantees for this year’s race. Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and André Negrão know that they will need to push from start to finish to put their rivals under pressure and find a way to claim victory in Shanghai!
The FIA WEC competitors will head out on track for the first time on Friday for two free practice sessions. Qualifying will be held on Saturday afternoon following a third practice session. The 6 Hours of Shanghai will get underway on Sunday at 11am local time (GMT+8), i.e. 3am French (CET) time.
Bernard Ollivier, Alpine Deputy Managing Director
“Starting at the Nürburgring, we have put together a series of races with a very high level of performance, whether you consider the cars, the drivers or the technical team. In Shanghai, the aim will be to try and win a second race this season and I think we have all the qualities required to do just that. Shanghai is a track at which Alpine has done well in the last few years. We won our first WEC race here in 2015 and it’s where we wrapped up the LMP2 world title in 2016. We can still win this year’s title, but to do that, we can’t afford to manage our efforts at all. We must compete, as always, with real panache so that Alpine provides the perfect showcase for the Renault Group in China.”
Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal
“With a very long start-finish straight and several series of fast corners, the Shanghai circuit is quite similar to the Fuji track. It’s a demanding racetrack for the tyres, especially if it is hot. At this time of year, the weather is unpredictable in Asia; although the forecast is mild for the time being, we have to keep an eye on how it develops so that we can react to any changes. Having said that, we feel pretty relaxed because we have proved in the last few races that we are quick in all conditions. Our mindset remains unchanged: we take the races as they come, without focusing too much on the championship because we know that we have to score maximum points here. The challenge of retaining our title doesn’t seem easy to achieve in that the points are likely to be split between the three leading crews, but we’ll keep pushing right to the end, come what may.”