Alpine has stepped up development work on the A424 with a fourth track test session that took place at Motorland Aragón, Spain. As development driver Nicolas Lapierre revealed in a recent interview, the primary purpose of this latest session was to test the car’s endurance. Aragón was selected for its long straight where cars can reach peak speeds comparable to those achieved at Le Mans.
The manufacturer had hoped to log 5,400 km in 30 hours but had to settle for 5,027 km. After an encouraging first eight hours in which a puncture was the only incident of note, the team had to contend with turbo issues, oil and water leaks and an electrical problem. In addition to assessing the Hypercar’s reliability, the team continued work on the general setup and on running in representative race conditions. The session was also designed to improve the team’s understanding of the Michelin tyres in terms of getting up to speed on a cold track.
At the same time, IMSA official testing took place on a second A424 at the Windshear wind tunnel in North Carolina. This was the first phase of the homologation process for the North American endurance championship.
Entering the active learning phase
“Frankly, all the team is delighted to have achieved this mileage in our first endurance test,” said Alpine Motorsports Vice-President Bruno Famin. “The main aim of the session was to test reliability by looking for weak points. We found several of them, which we will now have to address. And quickly as time is running out: there are 100 days until the start of the season in Qatar and we still have a huge amount to do, both in terms of reliability and even more so in terms of performance. We now need to analyse the data and learn everything we can from this session in order to make the most of the next one, which will be in Portimão in mid-December, to keep improving the car.”
Alpine also used the test to simulate a host of race sequences, including the start, safety car interventions and Full Course Yellow (FCY) periods to enable mechanics, drivers and engineers to get to grips with the various operating modes. “We're definitely entering the active learning phase,” explained Philippe Sinault, Alpine Endurance Team Manager. “We know there's still a lot to learn when we get to Qatar at the end of February, but we're doing everything we can to be as ready as possible.”
Charles Milesi, who has been involved in the development of the Alpine A424 in recent months, added: “It's interesting to see how the car has advanced since its first runs and how much more there is to do. I think we've done a good job on the development so far, with an endurance format, which has been a big job for the whole team and above all an essential step for the future of the project.”