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May 19, 2014 - 06:52 AM
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Podium Success At Imola Puts Alpine Back In The Frame!
Posted by: newsla on May 19, 2014 - 06:49 AM
Le Mans News
Podium Success At Imola Puts Alpine Back In The Frame!

Saturday morning’s free practice saw Signatech-Alpine set about adapting the Alpine A450 to its new Dunlop tyres and Nelson Panciatici completed the 90-minute session with the second-fastest time. He followed that up with the day’s best lap during the afternoon’s run.


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After qualifying third on the grid, Nelson Panciatici aimed for the inside of the first corner at the start to move up to second spot. He then stayed on the tail of the early leader as he found himself having to pick his way care-fully past backmarkers just a quarter of an hour into the race.

Paul-Loup Chatin was the next driver in the car and he soon emerged in first place before the Alpine A450 unfortunately refused to re-start for around 20 seconds after its second fuel stop.

At the halfway point, Oliver Webb began his stint during which he recov-ered first place thanks to a magnificent overtaking manoeuvre under brak-ing for Variante Alta.

However, a safety car interruption to allow debris to be removed from the track just after the two-and-a-half hour mark unsettled the team’s rhythm and upset its race strategy.

Oliver Webb was forced to pit from the lead to hand the Alpine A450 to Paul-Loup Chatin who re-joined in sixth place with 65 minutes of the race remaining and a refuelling stop still to come.

Paul-Loup’s speed allowed him to battle his way back up to third spot be-fore he was forced to make an ultimate stop for 35 litres of fuel. That dropped him back one place, but he fought back to move into third position with two laps to go.

Signatech-Alpine’s first podium finish of the season has promoted the team to third place in the 2014 European Le Mans Series standings and, above all, has allowed it to reduce its points deficit to the provisional leaders.

Philippe Sinault (Team Principal, Signatech-Alpine): “We’re back in the fight. The whole team produced a big effort to put the Alpine A450 back up with the front-runners after Silverstone. There are still areas that require attention but today’s podium finish is a huge confidence booster ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. At Imola, we were fast in free practice, qualifying and the race. We showed, too, that we have the potential to pass other cars and run at the front of the field. We also familiarised our-selves with the use of our Dunlop tyres over the weekend, and that’s given us a good basis for the remainder of the season. We’ve embarked on an upward spiral at just the right moment.”

Nelson Panciatici: “My stint went well. We managed to find a satisfactory set-up which meant we had a competitive, consistent car. I managed to gain a place through the first corner and then post a fastest race lap early on. After that, we had to make sure we brought the car home in that posi-tion. Today’s result is a big reward for the team. Everyone worked hard to get the Alpine A450 to work on Dunlop tyres. We were up there at the top in every session, and that’s perfect with Le Mans looming fast!”

Paul-Loup Chatin: “It was quite a hard race. I tried not to push my tyres too hard. We lacked data concerning the Dunlops because we weren’t able to do any testing before travelling to Imola. The team did a splendid job and Dunlop provided us with sound advice. Today’s podium finish is good for our confidence ahead of Le Mans.”

Oliver Webb: “We benefited from a big jump forward in terms of perfor-mance. I am glad of the contribution I made during my stint. The strategy changes that were necessitated by the safety car interruption possibly cost us the win but our overall performance was very encouraging. I really en-joyed myself when I was able to pull out a gap while in front after the neu-tralisation.”

The next round of the 2014 European Le Mans Series will visit the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 19-20. Before then, Signatech-Alpine will con-test the Le Mans 24 Hours for the second time. The pre-race Test Day is on June 1, followed by Qualifying on June 11-12 and the race itself on June 14-15.

2014 4 Hours of Imola – final positions:
1, Jota Sport 38 (Albuquerque / Dolan / Tincknell), 139 laps
2, Sébastien Loeb Racing 24 (Capillaire/ Charouz), +28.869s
3, Signatech-Alpine 36 (Chatin / Panciatici / Webb), +42.679s
4, Greaves Motorsport 41 (Dyson / Kimber-Smith / McMurry), +1 lap
5, Thiriet by TDS Racing 46 (Badey / Gommendy / Thiriet), +2 laps
6, Pegasus Racing 29 (Coleman / Leutwiler / Schell), +2 laps…
18, Race Performance 34 (Frey / Mailleux), +7 laps…

2014 European Le Mans Series – standings (after two of five rounds):
1, Thiriet by TDS Racing 46 (35 points)
2, Jota Sport 38 (27 points)
3, Signatech-Alpine 36 (25 points)
4, Race Performance 34, Sébastien Loeb Racing 24 and Greaves Motor-sport 41 (24 points). Etc.

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