The sun has set on the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with Pierre Ragues and the Signatech Alpine Elf squad taking a fifth-place finish in the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
The team put themselves in strong contention for much of the race, as their bold race strategy put them on a different path to their immediate LMP2 rivals. Despite leading the race on occasions, the trio of Pierre, Thomas Laurent and Andre Negrão had to settle for fifth place in class, and seventh overall in the season finale.
The team started strongly from third on the grid, as Andre moved the #36 Alpine A470 initially up to second place in LMP2. As the different pit stop strategies between teams emerged early on, the team held the race lead before putting after 45 minutes.
Pierre took over with 6.34 left on the clock, having refuelled and put on fresh rubber, setting good pace in fourth position. Thomas took over after Pierre’s stint before handing back the reins with five hours remaining.
A safety car period just over halfway through the race saw the team hold their fourth place but with green-flag racing resuming twenty minutes later, the strategies once again played their part. The #36 car moved back into the lead with Pierre’s stints contributing to the team’s advantage at that stage.
As the various strategies played out, other teams regained the top spots with Signatech Alpine Elf still in a close fight in the closing quarter. In the end, a late splash and dash left the team in fifth – the only reward for what had promised to be a fitting conclusion to the season.
The Bahrain race has brought to an end Signatech Alpine Elf’s impressive LMP2 journey, as the team switches to LMP1 next season. For Pierre, the result marks another solid performance in the highly competitive class, showing his ability to extract full performance from the car.
In a year heavily disrupted by the global pandemic, the FIA and WEC organisers have pulled out all the stops to complete the season with a representative calendar, allowing teams and drivers to share the spirit of endurance racing with fans at home.
While the 2019/20 season, run across two calendar years, might not have delivered the end result that Pierre and the team would have expected, the performance potential has been evident in every single event. A second place in Silverstone way back in September 2019, and fourth place in the recent Le Mans 24 Hours, are the highlights of the season for Pierre, who commemorated his 13th Le Mans participation this year.
Pierre said: “We had to settle for fifth place after a race that seemed to promise much more. We wanted to end the 2019/20 season on the podium, so it’s disappointing that we weren’t able to achieve that. There were different strategies at play today, and at times it looked like we might capitalise on that, leading the race on a few occasions. Although we were in the fight, the result was not what we had hoped. We could show the strength of our team, our car and our fighting spirit, which was important in this final round of the championship, which covered two separate calendar years. My thanks to every single member of Signatech Alpine Elf for placing their faith in me again, and for their unwavering support in a very challenging year, also to Michelin and my personal partners. I’d also like to extend my thanks to all of the organisers behind the scenes at the FIA and WEC for putting everything in place to allow us to complete this season, especially with all of the required safety protocols. It has not been an easy job, but it has been massively appreciated by all of us. I would also like to send a word of appreciation for Gerard Neveu for all he has done for endurance racing over so many years; I wish him the very best in his next chapter. Chapeau!”
2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship
Trophy for LMP2 Teams
- United Autosports 183 points
- JOTA 143 points
- Jackie Chan DC Racing 123 points
- Racing Team Nederland 122 points
- Signatech Alpine Elf 104 points