Five weeks after clinching the world title by winning the 24 hours of Le Mans, the Signatech Alpine Elf team took part in the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue.
At Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, André Negrão was joined by new team mates Thomas Laurent and Pierre Ragues in the n°36 Alpine A470.
The trio set third best time in the LMP2 category.
As has become tradition, the FIA WEC World Championship Prologue kicked-off the season.
After Monza in 2017 and Circuit Paul Ricard in 2018, all the entered teams and drivers met up at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for official pre-season testing, divided into four, four-hour sessions.
The Signatech Alpine Elf team spent the two days getting back into the swing of things with Thomas Laurent, André Negrão and Pierre Ragues while also trying out Michelin’s new range of tyres on a track where temperatures broke the 50° barrier. On pace right off the truck with second best time in the opening session, Les Bleus confirmed their presence at the sharp end of the order in the afternoon.
On Wednesday, the team focused on race set-ups with André Negrão and Pierre Ragues before looking for performance in the fourth and final session. The Brazilian managed to break the LMP2 track record by more than a second.
Sporting its new colours the n°36 Alpine A470 completed 260 laps or more than 1,200 kilometres, to finish third in its category thanks to André Negrão.
The next time on track for the Signatech Alpine Elf team will be from August 30th to September 1st in the opening round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship, the 4 Hours of Silverstone.
Philippe Sinault, Team principal Signatech Alpine Elf
This year, the Prologue was extremely important for us between the addition of Thomas Laurent and the return of Pierre Ragues. Le Mans was less than a month ago and this was the only opportunity to run prior to Silverstone. Despite this short period of time, we did a good job in what were extremely hot conditions that highlighted the characteristics of the new Michelin tyre specs. These tyres represent a step forward and they should help us defend our word title. Thomas was with us on Tuesday before fulfilling his obligations with Toyota. André and Pierre were here with him, and they completed our program with excellent performances. We kept the momentum of our victorious campaign going despite the same high level of our LMP2 rivals. Victory will only be more rewarding!
I am very happy to return to the track in the Prologue with the team that gave me my start in LMP2 three years ago. I had the chance to meet them last week in Bourges for my seat fitting and talk with them in a casual setting. It was essential before beginning the business at hand in Barcelona where I met my team mates, who are two very experienced drivers. I have a lot to learn from them. I was able to get in the car for the first time. It felt really good and the team listened to my feedback. We have everything we need to have a great season and win races. I can’t wait for Silverstone!
After ending our season with the title, this Prologue marks the beginning of a new campaign. I was very happy to be back with everyone in the team to prepare for Silverstone, and Pierre Ragues as well with whom I partnered with in the past and our new team mate Thomas Laurent. We had two very productive days as we tried a number of things, especially on Wednesday with long stints to study the handling of the car. The feeling was there, the performance as well, but the competition promises to be still very stiff. So, we will try twice as hard and work flat-out to defend our crown.
These two days were important for me to find my place in a team that has come on strong over the past few years. I was delighted to see some familiar faces, rediscover their procedures and get myself used to the car. My objective was to work on qualifying, because I didn’t do for a long time this crucial exercise in this championship. We also put in long stints with the new Michelin tyres in very hot temperatures without any problems, although I am not sure we will experience such extreme conditions during the season. We learned a lot and we should be confident to attack Silverstone!