Alpine resigned to another "compromise" season in WEC

Alpine has admitted it faces another season of "compromise" in the World Endurance Championship with its grandfathered LMP1 car, as it braces itself for increased competition in 2022.

Alpine resigned to another "compromise" season in WEC

Alpine moved up to the Le Mans Hypercar class this year with its LMP2 partner Signatech, running the ORECA-designed A480 that previously raced in the WEC as the Rebellion R-13.

However, it was forced to play second fiddle to its only full-season rival Toyota, primarily due to a smaller fuel tank, with the Japanese manufacturer securing a clean sweep of victories with its pair of GR010 Hybrids built to new LMH rules.

PLUS: Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

With Peugeot returning to endurance racing next year, and full season entries from Glickenhaus and ByKolles on the cards, Alpine could even struggle to finish on the podium next year unless it is offered a major Balance of Performance boost by series organisers ACO.

However, Signatech boss Philippe Sinault says Alpine was aware it would be on the back foot when it agreed to race a previous generation LMP1 car in WEC, and its main focus remains on building a LMDh contender for 2024 with the goal of winning Le Mans 24 Hours.

“We knew [the situation] since the start of the project,” Sinault told Autosport prior to the Bahrain 8 Hours finale. “For sure this year and next year will be a compromise year and we have to accept that, it's the game, to prepare for 2024 and the future. 

“So we are not upset with that. We have to play with the tools that we have this year and next year.”

#36 Alpine Elf Matmut Alpine A480 - Gibson: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere, #36 Alpine Elf Matmut Alpine A480 - Gibson: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

#36 Alpine Elf Matmut Alpine A480 - Gibson: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere, #36 Alpine Elf Matmut Alpine A480 - Gibson: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

Photo by: Toyota Racing

As the Alpine A480 is based on an ORECA LMP2 chassis, it cannot house a fuel tank large enough to match the stint lengths of Toyota’s hypercar.

This has left Alpine with an inherent disadvantage to its rival, with the French manufacturer often having to make at least one more pitstop over the course of six and eight hour races than Toyota to complete the same distance.

A larger capacity fuel tank arrived before the Le Mans 24 Hours and the outfit managed to deliver more tangible gains by fixing its fuel consumption issues before the Bahrain finale.

However, it was still left with a two-lap deficit to the Toyotas when it came to stint lengths, meaning it wouldn’t have realistically been able to put up a fight for victory even without the gearbox issues that left it five laps down from the leaders.

Read Also:

Sinault says Alpine has maximised the size of the fuel tank under the A480’s current homologation and doesn’t want the organisers to artificially slow down Toyota just to make his outfit more competitive next year.

“I think in terms of fuel capacity we've made the maximum before Le Mans, after that we must get something [from the ACO/FIA],” he said. “We shall see, it will not be homologated anymore [if we can change the fuel tank].

“We did a good job and we can do a stronger job with [engine supplier] Gibson, they are really, really good partner and we pushed a lot for [fuel] consumption with them. 

“Today the thing is to ask Toyota to be slower but it's not fair. The BoP is not my favourite spirit of sport. It's not fair to say, 'Toyota please slow down'. 

“We have to improve by ourselves in every area and FIA and ACO are always open, if we find something we can ask them if we can do this. So it's quite clear. 

“At the moment we are still at the maximum of the potential of the car as you can imagine, with tyres, with consumption, and we've improved our engine management.”

shares
comments

Related video

Duval aware Peugeot won't match Toyota from the outset
Previous article

Duval aware Peugeot won't match Toyota from the outset

Next article

LMP2 title-challenger Gelael switches to WRT for 2022 WEC

LMP2 title-challenger Gelael switches to WRT for 2022 WEC
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Plus

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Plus

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination Plus

Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination

OPINION: Peugeot will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar that has ignored design conventions by eschewing a rear wing. Its distinctive look will help sportscar racing appeal to fresh audiences as a new golden era is ushered in

WEC
Jul 7, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022