Alpine returns to endurance racing’s top table in 2024, and development of its new Hypercar is well underway.
The burgeoning international endurance racing scene will gain yet another headline manufacturer in 2024. Alpine will race its A424 prototype in the Hypercar category next year, and testing is well underway for the new challenger as the team prepares for battle against the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini at the world’s most famous endurance race.
The A424 will race in both the World Endurance Championship (including the Le Mans 24 Hour race) and the American IMSA championship in 2024 and beyond. In preparation for the season, Charles Milesi, André Negrão and Nicolas Lapierre shared three days of testing between them in Jerez to fine tune the car’s aerodynamics, hybrid energy deployment and handling balance.
Speaking on the test, Alpine team principle Philippe Sinault said: ‘We made significant progress, particularly in aerodynamics, onboard systems, headlight settings and other essential lighting for night runs. These tests were also crucial for the teams, who have to learn to work together, and we were able to put in a little more practice in what were sometimes extremely challenging conditions over these three days.’
The first ‘4’ in the A424’s name is a reference to Alpine’s last Le Mans winner – the A442B, driven to victory by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi 45 years ago in 1978. The ‘24’ is a reference to the Le Mans 24 Hour race.
The A424 has been created in collaboration with Signatech, the motorsport engineering company which has been Alpine’s sportscar racing partner for the last 10 years. It’s been a fruitful partnership so far: Alpine has won European Le Mans and World Endurance titles in the LMP2 category, and has raced in the top category using a converted LMP1 car in 2021 and 2022, with no little success. Signatech will co-run Alpine’s factory team in 2024 but the Alpine is looking to attract customer teams too.
Rather than a full-blown LMH-class Hypercar, as raced at Le Mans in 2023 by Ferrari, Peugeot and Glickenhaus, the Alpine will race in the LMDh class, as chosen by Porsche. LMDh cars are capable of fighting for overall victory with the LMH cars but have less technical freedom, using a customer chassis created by one of four official suppliers, and using a spec gearbox, battery and hybrid system.
The Alpine A424’s engine is built by specialist company Mecachrome, and is a 3.4-litre single-turbo V6. That makes Alpine the only manufacturer in the class to use such an engine configuration. Alpine’s top brass have commented that the Formula 1 cost cap has helped them with this project, freeing up more dyno hours for the engine at their F1 centre, as well as on Mecachrome’s own bench.
Why LMDh, not LMH? ‘The LMDh option was obvious as it requires a more limited investment in engineering than the LMHs,’ says Bruno Famin, Alpine Racing’s executive director. Alpine is also aiming to sell cars in the North American market, and LMDh cars are able to race in the USA-based IMSA championship as well as the WEC – another reason for the decision.
Home crowd fans will no doubt be cheering the home-team Alpine on as it battles Peugeot, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, BMW and Cadillac in a category which has seen a remarkable number of manufacturers throw themselves into it. It’s great to have Alpine in the mix too.