Alpine Endurance Team is hoping to only be one lap off Toyota Gazoo Racing’s stint length at Le Mans following a reduction in energy for the Alpine A480 Gibson ahead of Sunday’s test day.
The French team’s ORECA-built grandfathered LMP1 car will have a reduction of 74 megajoules — around 8 percent less energy per stint — since the last FIA World Endurance Championship round at Monza.
It compares to the Toyota GR010 Hybrid and Glickenhaus 007, which both retain its Monza Balance of Performance from the Italian round despite the regulations calling for a maximum power of 500 kilowatts for Le Mans.
The Toyota is set to run at 515 kW on Sunday with the Glickenhaus at 520 kW, with no explanation having been made by the FIA or ACO on neither car being adjusted down.
When asked about the BoP changes imposed on the Alpine ahead of the test day, Lapierre said it’s “hard to know right now.”
“For sure it should be shorter than Toyota but we have been shorter since the beginning of the year, so we’re getting used to it,” Lapierre told Sportscar365.
“At Monza it was not too bad. Now they reduced the energy. Here is a much longer lap as well so it may not be so bad.
“I hope we are only one lap shorter than them to be honest.
“If it’s going to be two laps shorter, we’re going to be pretty much [screwed] for the race. Let’s hope there is only a one-lap difference, which would be great.
“It would be better for the racing and the spectators and for everything.
“For the first races, BoP on-track was quite OK. We were a bit faster than them, maybe, in Portimao. They were a bit faster in Monza.
“All in all, I think it was quite nice for the races and the entertainment.
“But the fact that we had to stop so early just destroyed everything. It was very frustrating as a driver. Let’s hope it’s better here.”
Lapierre said the team has also been puzzled by the lack of adjustments for the LMH cars as the regulations stipulate.
“I think our energy reduction was kind of expected for this race. But the fact that they didn’t move either Toyota or Glickenhaus was for us the biggest surprise,” he added.
Alpine Needs to Push Toyota “Out of Their Comfort Zone”
Lapierre believes they will need to push Toyota in order to have any chances of victory in the race.
While there have been reliability concerns for both the new-for-2021 Toyota and Glickenhaus LMH cars, the increased weight on the LMP1 car is expected to pose a greater strain on components compared to previous years.
“Of course this car has proven to be very reliable,” Lapierre said. “But also it’s going to be much heavier than last year. We’re around 100 kg more than last year, so it’s going to be harder on the car to finish the race.
“But we are quite confident we can achieve this. The team worked really hard to make it happen.
“This team is super good on all of these details and is usually very strong to make the car reliable.
“For sure we should be in a bit better position than Toyota. On the other hand they have two cars so they have two-times more chances.
“We know they can make a car to be reliable the first year [at Le Mans]. They worked a lot and have done a lot of simulation and everything.
“Let’s see. What’s important for us is to not be far behind, to push them, and to not have them be in the comfort zone.
“If they are so much faster than us or have two laps margin in terms of fuel, then there is nothing we can do. They’d just be cruising.
“Our intention is to not be far behind and to push them and get them out of their comfort zone.”