AutoAboard the Alpine A48, a Le Mans prototype

Aboard the Alpine A48, a Le Mans prototype

Getting behind the wheel of a racing car, a Formula 1 or a prototype that runs the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a dream for every lover of racing cars or the motor world in general. And for motorsports it represents part of the development of production models. Many firms, from Renault to Citroën, as well as Audi, use racing as a test bed for new automotive inventions such as brakes, suspensions, engines…

And although most of the time we have to settle for seeing these vehicles on television, on this occasion we will be able to delight ourselves with the description of Nicolas Lapierre , driver of the Alpine Elf Endurance Team, who describes his ‘workspace’ on board the Alpine A480 that participates, also this season, in the World Endurance Championship. Although if what you like are SUVs, minimalist interiors and comfort, this time it’s not about that. And it is that a car for Le Mans surprises at first glance due to its striking design, as well as the complexity of the passenger compartment, worthy of a commercial aircraft. It is full of buttons, witnesses, screens and switches whose meaning completely escapes the one who looks at it without knowing it in depth. And that’s not counting the buttons on the steering wheel! “The cabin of the A480 is a bit like our office. We spend several hours on it on race weekends,” explains Lapierre.

Although the buttons and adjustment selectors that are used in each lap are located on the steering wheel, the pilots have many more controls at their service to interact with their machine. Thus, to the right of the steering wheel there is a first panel with more than twenty buttons of different colors: “In this panel we have switches that we use less frequently,” explains the Alpine Elf Endurance Team rider. “They allow you to activate a fan, change the brightness of the screen… It is the type of detail that can be important in certain conditions, such as at dusk in the case of brightness,” he adds.

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