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Alpine's first WEC Hyperpole appearance of 2024 'healing' after Imola troubles

Charles Milesi says Alpine reaching Hyperpole for the first time with its new A424 LMDh at Spa has been 'healing' following a bruising World Endurance Championship meeting at Imola.

#35 Alpine Endurance Team Alpine A424: Paul-Loup Chatin, Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen, Charles Milesi

Photo by: Paul Foster

Frenchman Milesi explained that reaching the top 10 shootout in the car's third competitive outing had helped to lift spirits in the camp ahead of Saturday's 6 Hour race after both Signatech-run machines were involved in a first corner tangle in Italy, while each also had post-race time penalties for drive time infringements.
"It's good for mental heals in a way because after Imola for sure we were all a bit down," the 23-year-old acknowledged. 
"And now obviously Hyperpole it's a lot better for us, putting us in a good mood for the race."
Milesi had been fifth-fastest in first qualifying before ending up eighth in the Hyperpole session, but has been elevated one place by the disqualification of the original pole-winning #50 Ferrari 499P Le Mans Hypercar for running underweight.
The #35 entry Milesi shares with Paul-Loup Chatin and Jules Gounon will therefore line up seventh, four spots ahead of the sister #36 car qualified by Mick Schumacher.
Milesi believes that Alpine's improvement over Imola, a circuit he called "probably the worst track for our car", is in part down to track characteristics due to a greater quantity of medium- and high-speed corners where "we know that the car is good".
"Because we don't have a lot of slow speed then we look a lot better," he said. 
#35 Alpine Endurance Team Alpine A424: Paul-Loup Chatin, Jules Gounon, Charles Milesi

#35 Alpine Endurance Team Alpine A424: Paul-Loup Chatin, Jules Gounon, Charles Milesi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

But the WEC's 2021 LMP2 champion also attributed Alpine's upswing to "a good step with the kerb riding, also the traction control" across practice having not conducted a pre-event test at the Belgian circuit.
Milesi admits that Alpine is still learning tyre management techniques, with the abrasive surface expected to result in significant degradation during the race.
"The gap can be massive, you can easily be one second quicker by managing the tyres more on the first laps," he noted. 
"Also with the traffic, it's quite difficult because we can take some marbles, and the marbles for the mediums are not really great compared to the hard; you can be more affected by that and it takes sometimes two or three laps to have the tyres back. 
"You can easily destroy them a lot if you try to push, especially on the front."
Having been forced to stop his car on track at the end of the Hyperpole session due to a loss of power, Milesi added that "the main target is to take some experience still" and have a trouble-free race.
#35 Alpine Endurance Team Alpine A424: Charles Milesi

#35 Alpine Endurance Team Alpine A424: Charles Milesi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

But he is optimistic that returning to the points is a possibility after placing seventh with a well-executed fuel-saving strategy in the Qatar season-opener.
"If we have a good pace and a good strategy, I think we can aim for some points maybe," he said. 
"But I think it will be tight between everybody, you can see that already even in the free practice it was quite tight."
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