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Jun 15, 2014 - 06:21 AM
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2014 Le Mans 24: The Alpine A450b Leads The Way In LM P2 After Seven Hours Of Racing
Posted by: newsla on Jun 15, 2014 - 06:14 AM
Le Mans News
2014 Le Mans 24: The Alpine A450b Leads The Way In LM P2 After Seven Hours Of Racing

Since the beginning of the week, the spectre of stormy showers has hung over the early stages of the Le Mans 24 Hours.


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Following a few insignificant drops of rain over the course of the opening lap, a veritable deluge was unleashed upon the circuit two hours into the race, initially at Tertre Rouge and subsequently over the rest of the track.

When the first safety car appeared, the Signatech-Alpine squad delayed Nelson Panciatici’s refuelling stop for as long as possible. Running on slick tyres, he was able to remain out for two extra laps before peeling into the pits and handing over to team-mate Paul-Loup Chatin with the car setting the pace in the LMP2 classification.

With the Alpine A450b now shod with intermediate rubber, Paul-Loup maintained the team’s position towards the front of the field until a second downpour resulted in the race being briefly neutralised once more.

In order to take advantage of a track that was rapidly drying out, Chatin switched back over to slicks on lap 40, going on to complete a triple stint on the same Dunlop tyres.

Oliver Webb took over at the wheel after the fifth hour of competition – and he, too, experienced a period behind the safety car, brought out to clear away a damaged LMP2 rival. He is currently in the midst of a triple stint on the same set of tyres.

That means that after seven hours of racing, the Alpine A450b is at the head of the LMP2 class field and sits seventh overall. Only four other LMP2 cars are on the same lap.

Philippe Sinault, Signatech-Alpine Team Principal: “We succeeded in navigating our way through the showers! Thus far, we have managed the race well – particularly during the safety car periods, which have enabled us to gain a few laps and delay our pit-stops. We are in a tight battle with the three or four other crews competing up at the front of the LMP2 standings, which means making the right calls on strategy will be vital.”

Nelson Panciatici: “I encountered difficulties during my initial stint when the front nose came adrift, but following the first pit-stop, I felt much happier with the car and everything went well. During my third stint, the chief focus was on keeping the car on the track when the rain arrived. We’ve had a good start to the race, and now we need to keep it up.”

Paul-Loup Chatin: “A positive baptism! It was tricky when the rain came down, trying to keep the car on the circuit through all the standing water. When it dried out again, I was able to settle into a strong rhythm. During my triple stint on the slicks, I made sure to take care of the tyres and there was only a little bit of degradation towards the end.”

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