Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici set for 2013 ELMS and Le Mans 24 Hours with Signatech and Alpine
Today, at half-past eleven, Pierre Fillon, President of the ‘Automobile Club de l’Ouest’, and Carlos Tavares, Renault General Director and Chief Operating Officer, announced this year’s return of ALPINE both to Endurance racing and to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with SIGNATECH as partner.
The rumours had been around for some weeks, so great had been the anticipation among the fans and the media alike, ever since Renault announced the renewal of the ALPINE brand in November last year. For the team run by Philippe Sinault and Didier Calmels, it is an immense honour to have been chosen for the return of this legendary marque, which has played a significant role in the history of both the Le Mans event and endurance racing in general.
The SIGNATECH team will therefore enter the # 36 ALPINE in the LMP2 category of the European Le Mans Series, as well as in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This return will undoubtedly be the event of the 2013 season, and an immensely emotional moment to share with all those who are passionate about ALPINE.
The two official ALPINE drivers will be Nelson Panciatici (a pure product of the Renault racing ladder : FR 2.0, GP2 and WSR FR 3.5) and Pierre Ragues (who has taken part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on six occasions, including three with Signatech). The name of the third driver for Le Mans will be announced shortly.
During the month of March, the official livery of the car will be announced, which will include a number of the marque’s traditional partners, including Total and Michelin.
Philippe Sinault : “It is an immensely proud moment to see my name, and that of my team, associated to that of ALPINE, a brand which has been linked with the greatest moments of endurance racing, and of the 24 Hours of le Mans. It is like being in a dream, or something out of a Michel Vaillant story. It is also an incredible challenge for us, to live up to the marque’s incredible heritage, and we will be worthy of the trust that has been placed in us by Carlos Tavares (General Director and Chief Operations Officer at Renault) and Bernard Ollivier (CEO of Automobiles Alpine and Caterham). In a difficult economic climate, this announcement is a fantastically positive sign for the automobile sector and for French motorsport… And as Jean Rédélé said to Général de Gaulle, during his visit to the Paris motor show, on being asked the purpose of the Alpine : « To raise the colours of France, my General !”
Didier Calmels : “For me, this is the summit ! After Formula One, Alpine in endurance racing… I could not dream of more in my career as a company boss, or as a fan. It brings back so many memories… my first rallies in a Berlinette, Didier Pironi, Gérard Larrousse, who was my partner in Formula One, and today this return with Philippe Sinault … It is fantastic for us ! I am so pleased for Philippe, who was the moving force behind this project !”
Carlos Tavares : “Alpine’s return in 2013 to this legendary event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is the start of a new, long-term, adventure. The deep passion that guides us is only equalled by the frugal nature of this return, which depends on the commitment of our partners and our supporters, that I would like to thank. Stage by stage, we will aim to jointly write a new page of the history of the great French sportscar brand that is Alpine. (extract from the official Alpine press release).
76 victories, 47 poles position, 475 podiums, 48 lap records, 15 titles : 21 year of compétition
10e scratch 24 Hrs Mans 2012 – 4eme LMP2 2e LMP2 24 Hrs Mans 2011 – LMP2 ILMC 2011 Champion – 4 vict. ILMC Vice champion LMS 2011 & 2010 Vice champion F3 Euro Series 2011 Champion F3 Euro Series 2010 Winner World F3 cup 2003, 2009, 2010. Winner FIA European F3 Cup F3 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003. Champion Formula Renault V6 2003 Europe
source: renault.com, www.24h-lemans.com, www.europeanlemansseries.com
Pierre Ragues set for 2013 ELMS and Le Mans 24 Hours with Signatech and Alpine
• French racer named as part of legendary French manufacturer’s return to endurance racing after 35 years
• Pierre will race LMP2 car for Alpine and Signatech in five ELMS races and Le Mans 24 Hours in 2013
Pierre Ragues has today been confirmed as one of the drivers to spearhead the return of the Alpine brand to the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2013, as the historic Renault brand joins forces with Signatech LMP2 squad.
The partnership, which was announced today at Le Mans, will also see Pierre take part in all five events on the European Le Mans Series calendar, beginning with Silverstone in April.
Alpine’s association with Signatech will see an LMP2 Alpine chassis with Nissan power this season, as well as running on Michelin tyres.
The team conducted a two day test at Magny-Cours earlier this week to begin preparations for the season opening Silverstone race which takes place in less than six weeks from now. A further pre-season test will be held at Circuit Paul Ricard on 26-27 March.
For Pierre, the partnership will mark his seventh year involved in endurance racing, and alongside his team-mate from 2012, Nelson Panciatici, the Frenchman will be looking to make a positive impression in both ELMS and Le Mans 24 Hours.
Alpine was last involved in endurance racing 35 years ago and has a long history of motorsport competition. Alpine has taken part eleven times previously in the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1963 and 1978 with 55 factory cars. The Alpine brand tasted glory at the legendary event in 1978 thanks to the Alpine A442B prototype driven by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi.
Pierre Ragues commented: “I am honoured to be part of the return of this legendary French manufacturer brand to endurance racing. I am equally humbled to have been selected, alongside Nelson, to be racing under the Alpine name in the European Le Mans Series and prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours event this season. The partnership between Alpine and Signatech in LMP2 promises to be a very exciting one and I can’t wait to race our #36 car at Silverstone in just over one month’s time. I am grateful to Alpine and Signatech for their faith in my capabilities for such a high-profile championship campaign and, thanks also to my partners Group Auto Union, I am really looking forward to being competitive and successful in the full season-long ELMS championship, as well as Le Mans itself.”
Nelson Panciatici “Official Alpine driver”
Alpine is probably the only French automotive brand to have been crowned in all three of the rally, single-seater, and prototype motor sports. After many international achievements in endurance, with the unforgettable overall win in the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours, Alpine is back in Le Mans this year for the most difficult endurance race in the world.
After battling brilliantly in the LMP2 category of the 2012 World Endurance Championship (WEC), and a fine fourth in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where he was awarded the Jean Rondeau prize for best rookie, Nelson Panciatici is now officially an Alpine driver. He will race in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) as part of the Signatech-Alpine Team run by Philippe Sinault. His partner is Pierre Ragues, another Frenchman, he has known since his Formula Renault 2.0 days and they raced together in the WEC last year. The two men, who get on very well, are a formidable team with a goal to win!
For this great comeback of the Alpine brand to the top level of motor sports, Nelson Panciatici would never, for anything in the world, have wanted to miss this extraordinary opportunity to drive an Alpine-Nissan kitted out with Michelin tyres.
He tells us: “I was hoping for more endurance racing because I really enjoyed my first season in the sport. I was also in a top team of skilled and passionate people. I did have some offers I was looking into very seriously but when Philippe Sinault mentioned the Alpine project to me, I jumped at the chance! Driving for a constructor as famous as Alpine is an incredible opportunity for a young driver and I didn’t hesitate for a second! I’m really pleased to be part of the Signatech-Alpine team and with Pierre as my co-driver, we’re aiming for victory in the LMP2 category from the start. Expectations will be high from everyone but I feel I can take on this responsibility because I know the whole team is there to help us and we’ll have a good car. I hope we have as good a season as we did last year, with a win to crown it!”
Amazing drivers like Patrick Depailler, Jean Pierre Jabouille, Henri Pescarolo, Didier Pironi, Jean Claude Andruet, Jean Luc Thérier, Jean Pierre Jaussaud too, and many others, have all shone behind the wheel of an Alpine. A new adventure starts today and new generations are already “tweeting” with frenzy: “Alpine is back at Le Mans.” Nelson Panciatici and the whole Signatech-Alpine team are ready to take on the challenge and add another chapter to the history of Alpine!