Alpine takes on the legend of Le Mans, with ambassador Zinedine Zidane

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The revival of the brand founded by Jean Rédélé began in 2013, with the A450, A460, A460B, A470 and A480 competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. LMP2 successes in 2016, 2018 and 2019, together with a wealth of experience acquired, have been the hallmarks of this period leading up to Alpine’s return to the highest level of the discipline.

Before taking on the crown jewel of the calendar at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Alpine Endurance Team took stock of its A424 Hypercar in its first three FIA World Endurance Championship races at Losail, Imola and Spa-Francorchamps.

Since mid-May , the team has tested at Circuit Paul Ricard, where Ferdinand Habsburg was able to get back behind the wheel after his recovery. Les Bleus then undertook a complete service of their two Hypercars, and to prepare for any eventuality in a race presenting incomparable challenges for both drivers and machines, the team also conducted detailed preparation work on spare parts before a final shakedown last Friday.

On Monday, Alpine Endurance Team settled into its quarters at the circuit. Before taking to the track, all competitors must attend the Scrutineering, the first administrative and technical checks to allow the FIA and ACO stewards to meticulously inspect the key elements of each car entered. This first high point occurs on Friday at 2:40 pm in the city centre for Alpine and its two crews, whose entire equipment will also be checked.

After a procession on Saturday afternoon in the Le Mans city centre, the Alpine A424s will take to the Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday for the first time in the two three-hour Test Day sessions. Although Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Charles Milesi, Ferdinand Habsburg, and Paul-Loup Chatin are all well-versed in the circuit’s subtleties, these initial tests will be crucial in helping them find their bearings on this 13.626 km long track, famed for its Mulsanne Straight.

The drivers will take turns fine-tuning their setups, perfecting their pit stops, and studying the behaviour of the different tyre compounds supplied by Michelin. The team will also have an imperative: allow Mick Schumacher to continue the process imposed on every Le Mans rookie thanks to the team’s expertise and that of his teammates, three of whom have already had category wins at Le Mans.

The pace of preparations will then build up. After an initial day analysing the data collected, the work will continue on Tuesday with the traditional Pit-Walk for the public. The action will resume in the first free practice session on Wednesday before the one-hour qualifying session, followed by two more free practice sessions on Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon before the Hyperpole, where the top eight in each category will compete in a high-speed battle to determine the top-eight grid positions in each category.

After a final night practice session and the famous driver parade in the city centre on Friday, Alpine Endurance Team will return to the track on Saturday morning for a 15-minute warm-up. A few hours later, the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be given by Alpine equal opportunities programmes ambassadeur Zinédine Zidane with an impressive field of 62 cars, including 23 competing in the Hypercar category. For Alpine, the target will be simple: keep on learning in the longest, most challenging and undoubtedly most spectacular race of the year, where the first challenge will be to finish.

As a common thread throughout the event, Alpine will reveal the A290, the 100% electric hot hatch from its Dream Garage. A few hours before the start, the A-arrow brand will also participate in a hydrogen demonstration with Alpenglow Hy4, in which Zinédine Zidane will be a passenger. The two models embody the future of the brand’s design, as well as being a rolling laboratory and an avenue of exploration for sustainable technologies at the forefront of sporting innovation. There will also be other surprises in store, so stay tuned!

Philippe Sinault, Team Principal Alpine Endurance Team

“Here we are! Although preparations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans have been underway for several months, we arrive at Le Mans with a true sense of excitement, even more so than in previous years. We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time and I have been impressed by every team member’s incredible work capacity and unwavering commitment before we take to the Le Mans track for the first time. In the context of our first participation with a new car, we have a good amount of knowledge to gauge the potential of our package so far. We’ve also done several simulations, but there’s nothing like real laps on track to validate or assess the extent of the work still to be done before next week. There won’t be much running time this Sunday, so we’ll focus on two key areas: aerodynamic balance on this very atypical track and tyre endurance over several long stints. Although we know that conditions will change very quickly as the track is ‘green’ before the rubber is laid down, this will allow us to build up the drivers’ confidence so that they can give us valuable feedback. Reliability will be just as important for us to get off to a good start in what promises to be a very ‘blue’ race, confirming that the Alpine brand is more present than ever.”

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