Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet finished on the podium for the fifth time in as many races this season in the 6 Hours of Shanghai
At the conclusion of a parcelled race, Signatech Alpine Matmut is second in the LMP2 category of the World Endurance Championship.
The entire team will now use the winter break to retake the championship lead at the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 15, 2019
Delayed several days due to a technical problem with its Paris to Shanghai flight and forced to make an unexpected stop in Siberia, all the members of the team managed to show up in time, helped by some rivals in the FIA World Endurance Championship paddock.
The French squad was on top form straight away under very capricious skies at the Shanghai International Circuit. After trying several aerodynamic configurations and the two types of rain tyres on Friday; the sun made a surprising return the next day.
Thanks to the intense work put in during the three free-practice sessions, Nicolas Lapierre set the fastest time in the LMP2 category. The n°36 Alpine A470 however, had to settle for fourth place in qualifying as Pierre Thiriet got caught out in his learning of the Chinese circuit in dry conditions.
Heavy down pours fell on Shanghai on Sunday. The race began behind the safety car and was red flagged after 15 minutes. Nicolas Lapierre and his rivals had to wait an hour before the action resumed. The Frenchman still moved up to third place before being surprised by the hellish conditions prior to another stoppage.
Once again, the race restarted behind the safety car, which stayed on circuit longer than planned because some drivers lost control of their cars due to aquaplaning on the start/finish straight! The team then chose this moment to readjust its strategy according to the weather.
The team’s effort paid off with Nicolas Lapierre moving back up to second place before handing over to André Negrão, shod on intermediate tyres. The Brazilian driver’s first stint was marked by another safety car period and the return of the rain before he was relayed by Pierre Thiriet just before hour five.
In the still difficult conditions, the two drivers continued to share the driving duties giving it their best as the light rapidly diminished. Moving back up to fourth, Pierre Thiriet finished the job as he avoided the final dangers of this race and stroke back as the Alpine A470 crossed took the chequered flag in third place.
Philippe Sinault, Team principal Signatech Alpine Matmut
“It was a very difficult race both for the nerves and tactics. Nicolas got a good start before the first interruption. In order to anticipate an eventual definitive red flag, we adapted our strategy before readjusting it because the weather was forecasted to improve a little. As the rain began to let up, tyre pressures played a role and André stayed in contact while Pierre did his best as he discovered these conditions on this track. Pierre was back in the car for the end of the race to reach his minimum time behind the wheel and to secure a well-earned top three result for the entire team. This fifth podium is a satisfaction. We knew that the Shanghai round would be tough, our main rivals were racing on home soil. We are now 10 points behind and there is still a long way to go in the championship with two big coefficient races. We are still in the battle and every point will count!”
“The conditions made this race extremely difficult. We had to gamble on strategy and we did a good job. My pace was a little off at half-distance, but there was plenty of speed and we had to push hard to reach this third place. We will now make the most of the break to retake the championship lead right away.”
“With the several interruptions, I think we got the best result we could today. It was very hard to find the right pace and maintain it. I switched to the intermediates just as the track was beginning to dry, but the rain intensified again and I preferred to drive carefully to avoid losing a lot of points. It will all be to race for next year and we will continue to battle just until the 24 Hours of Le Mans!”
“It was a very nervous time in the car between the extreme conditions and the mediocre visibility! I believe we did the business avoiding the numerous pitfalls. Although we will arrive in Sebring in second place in the championship, we can be proud of the work we put in over the week. The team made no mistakes with strategy or pit stops. It is a positive outcome and we will give it everything we’ve got at Sebring.”
6 Hours of Shanghai – LMP2
1. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 109 laps
2. DragonSpeed n°31 + 13.013s
3. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 +53.375s
4. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°37 + 1 lap
5. Racing Team Nederland n°29 + 9 laps
6. Larbre Competition n°50 + 11 laps
NC. TDS Racing n°28
FIA LMP2 Teams Trophy
1. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 – 112 points
2. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 – 102 points
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°37 – 98 points
4. DragonSpeed n°31 – 73 points
5. Racing Team Nederland n°29 – 47 points
6. Larbre Competition n°50 – 46 points
7. TDS Racing n°28 – 30 points