The comeback of Alpine in motor racing this year turned from good to best after the brand was able to clinch the 2013 European Le Mans Series title. This came after the Alpine duo of Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici in an Alpine A450 emerged fourth at the final round of the 2013 championship at the 3 Hours of Paul Ricard held last weekend.
A fourth place finish was enough for the Signatech Alpine team to secure the title as overall winner of the 2013 European Le Mans Series. The team managed to secure three podium finishes in five races – all enough to grab the title this year. Signatech-Alpine’s program for the 2013 season featured two primary objectives: June’s Le Mans 24 Hours and the European Le Mans Series. Prior to the weekend race, the Signatech-Alpine was already priming up for a possible title win, following a landmark victory in Hungary two weeks ago.
The team’s No. 36 Alpine A450 – driven then by Ragues -- qualified on the second row and was behind its main rival for the championship at the start of the race. After one and half hours of piloting the Alpine A450, Ragues found himself at fourth and was relieved by Panciatici. Panciatici, however, was forced to pit to change a defective steering wheel shortly afterwards.
Despite the unscheduled stop, Panciatici was able to fight his way back up from seventh to fourth, which was all the team needs to clinch the 2013 European Le Mans Series title. It was the first ELMS title of Signatech-Alpine since Alain Serpaggi, Gérard Larousse, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Alain Cudini won it for the team 39 years ago.
“This title is a tremendous reward for a season which I believe was marked by panache, determination and professionalism,” observed Bernard Ollivier after the finish. “Ever since the start of the programme, we have been privileged enough to benefit from strong backing from the media and racing fans alike. We would like to dedicate this title to them. Perhaps it’s just a first step…” [source: Renault]