Signatech Alpine Matmut has revealed its two-car LMP2 lineup for the FIA World Endurance Championship, confirming the return of reigning champions Nico Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes, alongside new and returning drivers to the French squad.
Lapierre and Menezes will be joined by Matt Rao in the No. 36 Alpine A470 Gibson, with Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and Andre Negrao set to pilot the No. 35 car, which will miss next month’s season-opener at Silverstone.
As reported by Sportscar365 last week, Lapierre will be replaced by 2016 World Champion Romain Dumas for the Spa and Le Mans rounds, as the Frenchman rejoins the Toyota LMP1 squad for a two-race program.
“When Nicolas Lapierre had the opportunity to aim for the overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we did not hesitate to release him,” said team manager Philippe Sinault.
“It was therefore necessary to find a replacement for him. I think Romain Dumas is the dream of any endurance team.
“We are delighted to continue with Gustavo Menezes and Nelson Panciatici, to be joined by Pierre Ragues and to welcome Matt Rao and André Negrão.
“After a magnificent 2016 season with Alpine, Stéphane Richelmi has seized a great opportunity to race in GT with a top team and we wish him the same success.
“For this 2017 World Championship, we can count on two highly motivated teams to make the Alpine colors shine.”
Although in name only, the Alpine-badged cars, which are identical to the new-for-2017 Oreca 07 chassis, provide the only variety in the LMP2 class this year, which is dominated by Oreca machinery.
“With a car like the Alpine A470, the LMP2 class is really entering a new era,” Lapierre said.
“The feeling behind the wheel was very good straight away. The attention that has been paid to every detail is impressive and it means that the handling is excellent. I can’t wait to get back out on the track.”
Despite the No. 35 car only set to begin its season at Spa, both cars will be present at this weekend’s Prologue pre-season test at Monza.