Alpine mulling hypercar for expanded WEC

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Renault’s motorsport arm is evaluating both LMH and LMDh rules for future project, which could begin in 2023.

Alpine is investigating a full hypercar campaign in the FIA World Endurance Championship in the future, with company boss Laurent Rossi saying that a decision is likely before the end of this year.

Renault’s performance arm, which has taken on all the group’s motorsport projects including its F1 team, is competing in the top Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) class in this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours with the A480, a ‘grandfathered’ LMP1 car. Alpine is using that project to help evaluate building a car, either for the LMH class or the similar LMDh class that is being introduced in 2023.

“I’m looking at it at the moment,” said Rossi. “This is year one [of the hypercar rules’, so I don’t have two or three years of analysis. I’m looking with the team at various ways we could carry on our presence in endurance: it could be LMH, it could be LMDh.

“I have a very keen and positive eye, because endurance racing is a good way to express Alpine’s qualities that it complementary to Formula 1. But need to look at all the parameters, chiefly the economic and sporting equations. What would it take for us to race in endurance with a chance of winning?”

Rossi said that the markets the major events in each class compete in would be a factor along with “the typology of competitors, ones that we feel the Alpine brand would be more natural to measure ourselves to.”

Toyota and Peugeot have currently committed to LMH, with Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Porsche signed up for LMDh. But the LMDh rules are focused on the US-based IMSA Championship, and Group Renault does not have a presence in the USA.

Rossi said that any Alpine hypercar project would not begin until 2023 at the earliest, admitting that the 100th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours that season was a major draw. He added that Alpine would evaluate interim options with partner Signatech, which could include continuing with the A480 or backing teams in the LMP2 class.

Rossi insisted that any hypercar programme would run alongside Alpine’s F1 squad, where it runs Group Renault’s works efforts and recently won the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“This is the CEO of Alpine talking: the fan base following F1 and endurance is vastly different,” said Rossi. “Our objective is to expand the brand awareness around Alpine because it’s the new sports car brand of Group Renault. If we want to do that we can’t just stay in F1.

“While it has a big audience, F1 is by no means representative of all the consumers we would like to provide cars to in the future. In that respect endurance racing is complementary.”

James Attwood

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