An historic podium for the Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team at Spa!
The Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team enjoyed an impressive debut in the Hypercar class at the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps as Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere drove the A480 to a superb second place at the 2021 FIA WEC season opener.
Flawless. No other word could describe the performance produced in Belgium by the Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team on its maiden outing in Endurance racing’s top-flight category. The French squad was impeccable in every way, during the pit stops, in terms of strategy and in the A480 cockpit, producing a highly accomplished performance in Belgium to go from strength to strength throughout the week from the Prologue until the race itself. The team managed to put the two new Toyota Hypercar GR010 Hybrids under serious pressure, taking advantage of their on-track anxiety. Indeed, the Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Matthieu Vaxiviere headed the field into the final hour, the three men ending the weekend as runners-up, just over a minute behind the race winners. “It has been a long and intense week, but we have learned a lot of things,” analysed Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team Principal.
“We had a minor issue in qualifying, with a sensor sending incorrect power data, but we bounced back well in the race. We were pleased to be able to fight with the Toyotas although the strategies were obviously very different given the differences in technology. We had expected them to complete more laps in their stints than us, but we managed to reduce the gap by being very quick to respond during the first safety car period. We also had excellent pace and there were a few racing incidents as can be expected in a six-hour race. André was very cautious at the start and wasn't able to make the most of his fine get-away. We lost about twenty seconds or so in the process, but he fought back and remained in touch, as did Nicolas and Matthieu after him. Our main goal was to make it to the end of the race, and we did just that. Although many had predicted we would finish on the podium, we nonetheless pushed hard to get second place by putting the Toyota cars under pressure. Overall, this was therefore a very positive opening race for us. We’re now going to work really hard to aim even higher at the next round.” All of which augurs well for a good contest at the 8 Hours of Portimao on 13 June...
Naturally enough, after their excellent start to the season, the Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team and its crew lie second in the Drivers’ and Teams’ standings of the Hypercar World Endurance Championship.