Future LMDh manufacturer Alpine and its factory team Signatech are “preparing for the future” with their LMP2 driver lineup in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year.
Renault brand Alpine has returned to the second-tier prototype category for one season as it bridges the gap between its grandfathered LMP1 car and its in-development ORECA-based LMDh.
Its two-car program with Oreca 07 Gibsons includes two members of its Hypercar lineup from the last two years – Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere – along with new signings Olli Caldwell and Charles Milesi.
Memo Rojas and Julien Canal have also joined the team as the designated Silver-rated drivers for the LMP2 effort.
Signatech team principal Philippe Sinault indicated that Alpine is using its transition season with the Orecas to prepare for its Hypercar assault next year, including the driver lineup.
“One of our targets for this year is to prepare for LMDh,” he told Sportscar365.
“The scale of the team is different and the people are different, to prepare [for] the new project. We have to integrate new people, new human resources, on this LMP2 program.
“Quite the same [for the drivers]. The main difference is that we have Silver drivers. We have to be clear that Silvers are not our priority for the future in this program.
“With Matthieu, Charles, Andre and Olli, yes we are preparing for the future.”
Alpine hasn’t confirmed its driver lineup for the projected two-car Hypercar effort with its LMDh prototype, although the retention of Negrao and Vaxiviere points towards a likely involvement for last season’s WEC runners-up.
Nicolas Lapierre is also involved in the development program but is only competing for his own Cool Racing team in the European Le Mans Series and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
When asked if Caldwell and Milesi have been involved in the LMDh development process and simulator testing, Sinault said: “Not yet. They are in the picture.
“If we were not considering them, they would not be there [in LMP2].”
Caldwell is making his full-time sports car racing debut after previously driving an ARC Bratislava in the 2021 WEC season finale.
The 20-year-old Brit was a member of the Alpine Academy last year, which included Formula 1 testing duties, and has signed a full-on factory contract with the brand’s endurance racing program.
As reported yesterday, Caldwell will dovetail his WEC campaign with a European Le Mans Series drive for Inter Europol Competition.
“Alpine have put me in this position, which I’m very thankful for,” Caldwell told Sportscar365.
“But I have to prove that I can be here. That’s my main target for now. Let’s see what happens in the future.
“It’s very different transitioning over from single-seaters to endurance racing. The mentality is very different.
“I’m just looking to show that I can have the right mentality for endurance racing, work well with the team and do what’s needed of me to get good results from a team perspective.”
Milesi, meanwhile, is fully focusing on LMP2 before thinking about a potential future in the top category.
“The job is to do first LMP2,” he told Sportscar365. “We have one season ahead of us and it’s really important to have good results and be in the rhythm compared to the other teams.
“We need to focus first on LMP2 and then we’ll see. We are confident and this season will be quite important for future years, also for me. We are developing everything this year.”