Paul Loup-Chatin : “I dreamt of Alpine, there’s a blue shade in my DNA”
Photo: Alpine

Paul Loup-Chatin : “I dreamt of Alpine, there’s a blue shade in my DNA”

Eleven years ago, Paul-Loup Chatin joined the French carmaker as a junior driver. Now, he will make his debut in the FIA WEC’s Hypercar class with the brand-new No.35 Alpine A424.

On 5 October, 2021, at Paris’ Centre Pompidou, Alpine announced they would compete in the FIA WEC’s Hypercar class from 2024 onwards. Amongst the attendees that night was one of the six drivers the iconic Normandy carmaker had chosen for the competitive debut of the Alpine A424, Paul-Loup Chatin. “I was delighted for the brand. I remember my eyes lighting up and swearing I would do anything to take part in that amazing challenge. It clearly was a goal of mine.”

The Frenchman is making a return to Alpine, eleven years after joining the team as a junior driver in 2013. The following year, he finished third in the LMP2 class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and won the ELMS title with Signatech-Alpine. In 2015, he sealed his first-ever FIA WEC class win during the 6 Hours of Shanghai. “For me, those were two exceptional years on human and sporting levels, very successful seasons”, remembers Paul-Loup.” At that time, my dream was to work my way up with Alpine to the premier class.”

That dream is about to become reality. On Saturday and Sunday, the Dourdan-born 32-year-old racing driver will take the wheel of the A424 for the FIA WEC’s Prologue set at Lusail International Circuit, the stage of the season-opening Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km the following weekend. For the first time ever, the royal blue-liveried Hypercar won’t be on its own on the track. “We’ll find ourselves in race weekend conditions. It is paramount to see how we - the drivers and the team - cope in those conditions by trying to remain as calm as possible. Our aim is to gather as much data as we could for next week’s race.

The number one goal is to take the checkered flag with both cars’

With searing heat forecast on a track with high tyre deg, the Qatar Airways Qatar 1812 Km are set to offer the newly-committed Hypercar challengers a mighty challenge. Paul-Loup reckons a win is not in Alpine’s agenda for the A242’s first race. “That first round in Qatar will be a discovery for us. We’ll see how it will pan out but the number one goal is to take the checkered flag with both cars. That implies taking no unnecessary risks. We want to buil up experience which will benefit us for the whole season ahead.”

At the wheel of the No. 35 entry, the Frenchman will share driving duties with Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi. Like Paul-Loup, the two racers have showed their ability and craft in the LMP2 category before joining the premier Hypercar class. “It matches so well between us. We’re different but complementary. There is no ego. Winning together is our sole aim. We hit it off since the start. For the fitting inside the car, we have found a compromise, which was not easy considering Charles and Ferdinand are polar opposites height-wise!”

The trio and the No. 36 squad (Matthieu Vaxiviere - Nicolas Lapierre - Mick Schumacher) sound enthusiastic at the prospect of throwing down the gauntlet to the elite of Endurance racing with the Oreca-chassied Alpine A424. “That car feels well-built. It already showed very good reliability, which is essential. Besides, driving it is very enjoyable. We are not caught by surprise by its on-track behavior. The A424 feels a very solid racecar.”

After a 2023 season of preparation with a two-car effort in the LMP2 class, Alpine look ready to take on the greatest of challenges : returning to winning ways in FIA WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 46 years after the success of the No. 2 A442B of Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud at La Sarthe. “My motorsport dream is to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Alpine”, adds Paul-Loup. “I dreamt of Alpine, there’s a blue shade in my DNA. And Le Mans is the greatest race in the world. The 2024 edition will be fantastic. I would like to congratulate everybody who had worked so hard to achieve this new golden era in Endurance. This is as good as it gets, long may it last!”