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Alpine Drivers Concerned by Relative Speed on Straights

Alpine drivers Negrao, Vaxiviere point toward a straight-line speed deficit during test day…

Photo: MPS Agency

Alpine Elf Team drivers Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere expressed concern at a lack of straight-line speed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day, with both citing that their grandfathered LMP1 car was struggling to overtake LMP2s on the Mulsanne Straight

Alpine ranked fifth out of five Hypercar entries in both of Sunday’s four-hour test sessions ahead of this weekend’s 90th Le Mans edition, for the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Alpine’s best lap time of the day — a 3:32.420 from Vaxiviere — sat just over 2.5 seconds off the pace and set it behind two LMP2 cars, the fastest of which was two seconds away from the outright-leading No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

At last year’s test, the Alpine A480 Gibson ran one second off the overall pace set by a Glickenhaus 007 Pipo.

Sunday’s timing data shows the peak top speed of the Alpine as 325.8 km/h (202.4 mph) while the next-fastest LMH, the No. 709 Glickenhaus, was clocked 6 km/h (3.7 mph) quicker. The fastest cars from Toyota and Glickenhaus matched 337 km/h (209.4 mph).

The best sector times show the Alpine as slower in comparison to its Hypercar rivals through the Mulsanne-dominated middle sector than in sectors one and two.

When asked if the French team was worried by the test day results, Negrao said: “Yes, but it’s too early to say because the BoP is done for the first part.

“I hope the FIA and ACO can see how much we are behind because we are completely behind [the LMH cars].

“The main loss is sector two and that’s a straight. The rest is quite OK, but in sector two we are 1 to 1.2 seconds behind.

“We can compare our top speed to LMP2. Our tires are much better, so in sector three we are much better. But in a straight line we are struggling to overtake them.

“The rest is more than 330 km/h – Glickenhaus and Toyota.”

Alpine was handed a 10 kW power increase for the Le Mans test day, restoring half of the amount it lost between the 1000 Miles of Sebring and the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa.

Its maximum power output, as stated in the pre-event Balance of Performance, is 420 kW (570 hp) which is 30 kW (just over 40 hp) less than what it had for Le Mans last year.

By contrast, Toyota has 9 kW less than last year’s race and 4 kg less weight, whereas Glickenhaus has the same power output and minimum weight.

Shortly after the BoP was announced, Alpine WEC team principal Philippe Sinault told Sportscar365 that he considered the power adjustment for Le Mans to be “better than nothing” but that his team had hoped for more.

“The car is consistent and no problem at all for the eight hours that we did,” Negrao added.

“In this case, we are pretty happy. It’s just in terms of top speed and engine that is completely crazy at the moment. I hope they can check something for next week.

“It’s hard to tell now, but we should be quicker [during race week] because the track is getting quicker. But I don’t think we can go so much further with this kind of top speed.

“I can say… one second [quicker] but it depends because you can have a lot of traffic to analyze. But 10 km/h less than the other guys is quite a lot.”

Vaxiveire appeared rather dejected in the minutes after the final test session ended, whereas Toyota and Glickenhaus were satisfied with how their respective days went.

“At the end of the day, we are too far I think, but we will see,” Vaxiviere told Sportscar365.

“In the straights we are struggling quite massively. Compared to LMP2 it is quite hard to overtake them. It looks like you are in LMP2, on the straights.

“At the end, I think we are closer to the LMP2 category than the Hypercar category.”

Toyota’s WEC technical director Pascal Vasselon suggested that the track conditions were similar to last year’s test day held in August, and put forward that the best GR010 Hybrid lap times met expectations considering the BoP differences from last year. 

Jose Maria Lopez set the pace with a time of 3:29.896, versus a 3:29.340 from Mike Conway in 2021.

“What we were expecting is to be slower than last year,” said Vasselon.

“We are exactly in the range of lap time we anticipated.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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