Nicolas Lapierre (Alpine): We’re expecting the race to be even more exciting in 2024
Alpine is currently working hard on its A424 in preparation for its entry into the Hypercar class in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Development driver Nicolas Lapierre shared his thoughts on the exciting venture and predicted an epic 24 Hours of Le Mans (12-16 June 2024).
How exciting is it to be involved in the development of a Hypercar?
Nicolas Lapierre: Very exciting, and in lots of ways. We have worked on this Hypercar from scratch, so it’s very pleasing to see it evolve and progress. I’d already had this kind of opportunity with Toyota and with Oreca for the LMP2. It's thrilling to be part of such a project. Alpine is a big hitter in the ultra-competitive FIA World Endurance Championship. It’s a tremendous moment in the history of the sport.
What did you feel the first time you took the wheel of the A424?
NL: It was a lovely surprise, but the car is well-born. From the very first tests, we clocked up lots of miles and achieved high performance levels. I got the feeling that the various teams at Alpine had done a good job upstream. The A424 showed its reliability straight away so we were able to get down to the nitty-gritty of developing the car. We know there’s still a long way to go, but it was a good start.
Where are you with the car’s development?
NL: It’s in full swing. We’ve completed three test sessions and are about to do a full-scale endurance test. The car has progressed each time. Our aim is to finalise it before homologation at the end of the year. We’re working flat-out because it’s a crucial stage of the project. It’s the cornerstone.
"If we work well, we’ll soon be a force to be reckoned with"
Nicolas Lapierre, Alpine Elf Team
What influence do the drivers have on the development programme and the car’s progress?
NL: We have to provide feedback and be comfortable with the car. For a racing car the notion of comfort is relative but, in endurance, it’s very important. The car mustn’t be unpredictable or behave erratically. We have our say on the ergonomics of the cockpit or the pedals so that the drivers can run up stints without any problem.
Hypercars are heavy and powerful. What constraints does that imply in terms of tyre management and wear?
NL: Tyres are an extremely important component and a priority factor in our development work. The car must be able to bring them up to temperature quickly to enjoy the best possible grip. It’s a tremendous challenge and we’re delighted to work with Michelin who have done a great job with the other manufacturers. We need to adapt the car and our driving style to these tyres.
Do you think the car will be capable of making the 24 Hours of Le Mans podium on its first appearance in the race, like the Cadillac in 2023?
NL: I hope so! That’s what we’re striving for. We’re well aware, however, that we’ll face some powerful rivals such as Toyota and Ferrari who will be even better honed next year. The competition will be very stiff, but Alpine has put in place the resources to perform. If we work well, we’ll soon be a force to be reckoned with.
What’s your view of your Hypercar’s design?
NL: I love it! She was a lovely car from the outset, but now she’s got her blue livery, she’s just magnificent! She has a special lighting signature and all the traits of an Alpine. The designers were able to tap into their ideas and the result is wonderful. She makes a great noise too!
Like Alpine, Lamborghini and BMW will join the Hypercar ranks next season with lofty ambitions. It must be exciting to take on all these makes.
NL: These are incredible times for endurance. Competition will be really intense in 2024. There will be drivers with different backgrounds from all over the world and the level will be awesome. The 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary was fantastic but we’re expecting the 2024 race to be even more exciting with all these manufacturers on the grid. We can’t wait!
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