Le Mans organizers don’t want the Alpine LMP1 to win

Alpine’s Oreca-built A480 is the last LMP1 design still racing in the top class of the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship against the new generation Le Mans Hypercars from Toyota, Glickenhaus and from next month’s Monza round, Peugeot.

Technical issues early in the race meant that the car shared by Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere finished fifth and last of five Hypercar entries at Le Mans, but it was clear from the start the team was lacking. in performance to compete in any case.

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This followed a series of changes to the BoP decided by the series rule makers, the FIA ​​and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, in the run up to the classic La Sarthe.

Alpine was originally given two power increases, one side of the Le Mans test day, bringing the Gibson -powered A480 to 427kW (573bhp). But after a massive jump in laptime on Thursday’s qualifiers, the team has been pegged back to 417kW (559bhp).

Kobayashi, who now holds the dual driver/team principal role at Toyota, told Japanese pre-race media that he was sure the Alpine was sandbagging before its power cuts.

“According to our simulations, they should be a second faster [with the second power increase], but they are 2.6 seconds faster, ”said the ex-Formula 1 driver. “They’re playing us like fools.”

Speaking last weekend at a specially arranged press conference at the Sugo Super Formula round with Toyota squadmate Ryo Hirakawa, Kobayashi was asked for his opinion on the Alpine saga after the struggles of the French marque.

“I think the ACO is always trying to make it fair,” said Kobayashi, who is part of the second-placed #7 Toyota crew. “But Alpine is based on the old LMP1 category, and while they don’t admit it, I think they realize it wouldn’t be a good thing if that car won Le Mans.

“I think that’s why they gave Alpine a bigger reduction in BoP than necessary.

“Even without that change, Toyota is in a good position to fight. But if Alpine is faster than Glickenhaus, it will be cruel to the manufacturers to come up with a new car.

“It’s not about Toyota and Alpine, it’s about the manufacturers going into Hypercar, and whether they build a hypercar [LMH] and the ‘grandpa’ car is faster, it’s not the right place.

“I think that’s why they decided on the BoP, and I think they made the right choice.”

Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 car will not be eligible to dive into the WEC next year, with the French marque poised to descend into the LMP2 class before it introduces a new LMDh contender in time for the 2024 season.

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