Alpine's Lapierre disappointed by Toyota deficit, not result at Fuji

Alpine driver Nicolas Lapierre says he is disappointed to finish so far behind Toyota in last weekend’s Fuji World Endurance Championship event, even if the team hit its pre-event target.

Alpine's Lapierre disappointed by Toyota deficit, not result at Fuji

On the WEC’s first visit to Japan since 2019, Toyota’s pair of GR010 HYBRIDs were a cut above the opposition, finishing two laps ahead of the Alpine A480-Gibson shared by Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 car had taken a Balance of Performance hit, which led Negrao to conclude after Friday practice that the team had no hope of challenging Toyota and that third would be a satisfactory result in the circumstances.

While that target was achieved, despite an early tussle with Peugeot, Lapierre couldn’t hide his frustration at Alpine’s powerlessness to offer even a remote challenge to Toyota in what turned out to be a rare caution-free race.

Analysis: The Toyota domination on home turf that sets up a WEC title showdown

“The result we expected, but it wasn’t the gap we expected - we’re a bit disappointed to be so far away,” Lapierre told Autosport.

“Two laps is quite a lot for a six-hour race. 

“We didn’t have much to do in terms of strategy because nothing happened [with caution periods] and we were much shorter on fuel than Toyota, so there were not many windows open for us. 

“We just tried to survive and do some damage limitation for the championship.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director Pascal Vasselon admitted that the two-lap margin over Alpine at the end of the Fuji race exceeded the marque’s expectations.

However, he said the real pace of both the Alpine and the Peugeot 9X8, which was delayed by oil leak issues on both cars, was more impressive than it appeared on paper.

Podium: #36 Alpine Elf Team Alpine A480 - Gibson LMP1: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

Podium: #36 Alpine Elf Team Alpine A480 - Gibson LMP1: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“The BoP is managing the pure performance, and in this sense all cars were pretty close together,” Vasselon said.

“Two laps is more than we expected. But our drivers were much more consistent in traffic and much more consistent on tyres.

“The other thing we did is ensure we made one stop less, which we anticipated from the beginning. We made sure we would do six stints exactly and this paid off as well.”

Third place for Alpine means Lapierre, Negrao and Vaxiviere head to the season finale in Bahrain in November level on points with Toyota drivers Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa at the head of the standings.

Lapierre called Toyota the “favourite” for the eight-hour race but vowed to push to the end despite the disappointment of Fuji.

“Bahrain is a track that will suit Toyota because there are a lot of long straights, but it’s still open,” said the Frenchman. “As long as we still have a chance we’ll give everything. 

“We know Toyota is the favourite, as they have been for the whole season, but we have a chance, we are level on points, so we’ll try and fight for it.”

shares
comments

Related video

Ferrari estimates 5000km covered by new Hypercar in testing
Previous article

Ferrari estimates 5000km covered by new Hypercar in testing

Next article

Jota rues lack of FCY that scuppered strategy in WEC Fuji 6 Hours

Jota rues lack of FCY that scuppered strategy in WEC Fuji 6 Hours
How Toyota defeated Alpine for the 2022 WEC title Plus

How Toyota defeated Alpine for the 2022 WEC title

Toyota #8 trio Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa outscored their rivals in the last season before the World Endurance Championship’s top class gets ultra-competitive. Here's how their Hypercar battle with Alpine and the remaining class tussles played out in LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am

WEC
Dec 5, 2022
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