Jules Gounon to replace injured Hasburg for Imola WEC

Jules Gounon to replace injured Hasburg for Imola WEC

Jules Gounon will take injured Ferdinand Habsburg’s seat in the Alpine Hypercar squad for this weekend’s World Endurance Championship event in Imola.

Alpine Hypercar reserve driver Jules Gounon will make his debut this weekend at the FIA WEC race in Imola, replacing the injured Ferdinand Habsburg, the team has confirmed.

Habsburg will miss the event as he continues his recovery after suffering two fractured lumbar vertebrae after an Aragon testing crash last month. He was also unable to attend the opening round of the ELMS season in Barcelona last weekend, where he was scheduled to race in the LMP2 category with COOL Racing.

The two-time GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup champion with Mercedes will replace Habsburg in the #35 A424 LMDh and will share driving duties with Charles Milesi and Paul-Loup Chatin.

Gounon was initially set to race with Climax Racing for this weekend’s opening round of World Challenge Asia at Sepang, and now that he will be running in Italy, Ralf Aron will replace him in the #22 Climax Racing AMG GT3 for the event.

“Ferdinand will be on our minds,” said Alpine Endurance team principal Philippe Sinault. “It is a hard blow, but that is part of the life of a team, and everything is in place to ensure that he is with us thanks to modern communication methods.

“We’ve decided to replace him with Jules at Imola. It’s never easy to make your debut in such a context, but Jules was identified, selected and signed to fill this role, even though we never imagined it would happen so early like this.

“He’s fundamentally ready but still has much to learn, even if he has already demonstrated his mastery of several aspects, given his track record in GT.

“We honed his preparation during our latest tests with his six teammates and then in the simulator to prepare him for all our processes. This weekend promises to be extraordinarily instructive for the whole team.”

Alpine has not provided any information regarding Habsburg’s availability for the third round of 2024 WEC at Spa on May 11. He crashed at Turn 7 at MotorLand Aragon for reasons that the team has not yet revealed, suffering two fractured lumbar vertebrae.

Habsburg’s injuries were not discovered until he had left Austria despite undergoing checkups at the nearby Alcaniz hospital.

Meanwhile, Gounon, 29, began a three-year career as a factory sportscar driver at Bentley before he signed with Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2021. However, he’ll be driving a prototype for the first time in Imola.

In a pre-race statement, Alpine stated that their goal for the Imola 6 Hours weekend is to collect as much data as possible.

“Our goal at Imola is to continue our learning process to be increasingly ready and gain momentum for the forthcoming races,” said Sinault. “We’ll discover a circuit quite different from what we’ve experienced since the first runs of the A424.”

Habsburg, Milesi, and Chatin secured points for Alpine as the A424—which was developed in collaboration with the French constructor ORECA—made its debut in the Qatar 1812Km at the beginning of March.

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