Alpine confident in 12-lap stints, pace close to Toyota

Alpine is confident it can achieve the 12-lap stints it believes are essential to mount a challenge in this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hours, and thinks it can lap in the same second as Toyota.

Alpine confident in 12-lap stints, pace close to Toyota
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Philippe Sinault, boss of the Signatech squad that runs the Alpine A480 grandfathered LMP1 in the FIA World Endurance Championship, revealed that the team has been able to achieve 12 laps at Le Mans on the energy allocation laid down for the car by the Balance of Performance on multiple times in free practice.

"We have achieved 12 laps many times," he said. "When I say 12, it’s a nominal situation. If we lift, it could be maybe 12.1 or 12.2, but our target is not 13. It is 12 and no more."

The A480 shared by Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andre Negrao has not run for 12 consecutive laps between coming into the pits during practice, but Sinault explained that "the game is never to do all 12 laps in a row".

He added that the team has "all the tools to be sure that we can achieve 12", which include getting the drivers to lift and coast on the multiple long straights at Le Mans to save fuel.

Sinault said that the increase in distance that the Alpine can achieve on its fuel allocation in comparison to the opening rounds of this year's WEC was "thanks to the Balance of Performance".

He would not elaborate on a remark that appears to contract comments he made earlier.

The Alpine's per-stint energy allocation has been cut from 918 to 844MJ, which Sinault had appeared to confirm was a house-keeping measure to reflect the amount of fuel the A480 can accommodate.

The Oreca-design car formerly raced in the WEC as the Rebellion R-13 and was hastily developed out of the French manufacturer's 07 LMP2 chassis, which only has a 75-litre fuel capacity.

That explains why it cannot accommodate the same amount of fuel as the rival Le Mans Hypercars, which were designed to do 12 laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe.

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Alpine needs the "perfect race"

Alpine is expecting to be able to lap in the same second as the LMHs during the race, despite ending up 1.6s back from Kamui Kobayashi's pole time for Toyota.

"I think the gap will be closer [in the race]," he said. "On average, I think we will be in the same second."

Sinault explained that it is important Alpine has what he described "as the perfect race".

"We know that Toyota has got an advantage and it will be a big mistake if we want to fight with them," he said. "First we have to make the perfect race and after we will see."

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