Practically 44 years after winning Le Mans together on June 11, 1978, Alpine and Michelin rekindled their successful relationship in world-class endurance racing by claiming Friday’s 1,000 Miles of Sebring, opening round of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship
Competing for the first time on Michelin Pilot Sport tires developed specifically for the discipline’s Hypercar class, the #36 Alpine A480 (Nicolas Lapierre/Matthieu Vaxivière/André Negrão) combined victory in qualifying for the Florida classic with the fastest race lap and a successful double-stint strategy to harvest its maiden FIA WEC win.
“Congratulations to everyone at Signatech-Alpine on their success at Sebring,” said Pierre Alves, manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programs. “Alpine and Michelin have achieved so much together over the years in motorsport and we are proud to see that continue today. The Alpine A480 was racing for the first time on the MICHELIN Pilot Sport tires we have developed for the FIA WEC’s Hypercars and their lasting performance won the day at what is a hugely demanding circuit.”
Second at the flag was the #8 Toyota GR10 Hybrid/Michelin of Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa, chased by the Glickenhaus 007-LMH/Michelin (Pla/Dumas/Briscoe), while the #7 Toyota crashed out in spectacular fashion at around the halfway mark. Happily, its driver Jose-Maria Lopez was able to walk away from the accident unscathed but it sparked a 50-minute red flag interruption. The race was then halted once more when a tornado got close to the International Sebring Raceway and was ultimately brought to a close due to a lightning storm.
The LMGTE Pro qualifying battle was topped by Kévin Estre in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR/Michelin which went on to win the race on the new Pilot Sport tires Michelin developed for the category over the winter. They took the American track’s demanding, bumpy surface in their stride and also helped the Corvette C8.R/Michelin of Milner/Tandy and the Porsche 911 RSR of Bruni/Lietz to pocket second and third places. LMGTE Am honors went to the Aston Martin Vantage/Michelin of Dalla Lana/Pittard/Thiim.
The next round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship will take teams to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, on May 7, for a full-scale dress-rehearsal ahead of mid-June’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
1,000 Miles of Sebring – Final positions:
Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxivière (Alpine A480/Michelin), 194 laps
Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa (Toyota GR010 Hybrid/Michelin), +37.4s
Pla/Dumas/Briscoe (Glickenhaus 007-LMH/Michelin), +1 lap
Di Resta/Jarvis/Pierson (Oreca07-Gibson), + 2 laps
Gelael/Frijns/Rast (Oreca07-Gibson), 2 laps