There is a certain degree of functionality in the way manufacturers have developed rally cars throughout the history of the sport. Family sedans and hatchbacks have been fitted with a roll cage, wheel arches and the standard engine has been given more horsepower. Few rally cars could be described as stunning to look at and as the old adage says, if it looks fast it probably is.
Alpine (Société des Automobiles Alpine SAS), best known for its beautiful A110 sports/rally car (see main picture), is a French manufacturer established in 1955 by Jean Rédélé.
In a nut shell, they produced sport and rally cars with a strong association with Renault who purchased them outright in 1973. Production of Alpine came to an end in 1995, however, the brand has been relaunched with the introduction of the new Alpine A110 in 2017.
The A110 Berlinette was produced between 1961 to 1977 using many Renault parts and became famous for its rallying success in the early 70s, notably the 1971 Monte Carlo Rallt with Swedish driver Ove Andersson. It was to go on and become the first winning manufacturer of the World Rally Championship in 1973.
Now the revival of the Alpine brand takes a major shift with the announcement that the Renault Formula One team will be re-branded as the Alpine F1 Team.
New Group CEO Luca De Meo commented, “Alpine is a beautiful brand, powerful and vibrant, that brings a smile to the faces of its followers. By introducing Alpine, a symbol of French excellence, to the most prestigious of the world’s automotive disciplines, we are continuing the adventure of manufacturers in a renewed sport.”
Alpine have also confirmed that it will be entering the LMP1 class of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship. With the withdrawal of Rebellion from the category, it appears as though Alpine will take over their ORECA chassis and Gibson engine.
Endurance racing is not new to the brand having already participated 11 times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1963 and 1978. It finally won in 1978 with the French pairing of Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi (Alpine Renault A442B).
Since 2013, a winning alliance was established between Alpine and the Signatech team taking the Drivers and Teams titles in its maiden season in the European Le Mans Series. This was followed up by a repeat performance in 2014. The following year they moved up to the FIA World Endurance Championship. Alpine proved itself with two world titles and three LMP2 category wins in the last four editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It is also likely that they will compete in the 2022 WEC in the new Hypercar category.