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.
The performance brand – which has taken on all Groupe Renault’s motorsport projects, including its Formula 1 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.
It’s using that project to help evaluate building a hypercar for either the LMH class or the similar LMDh class that will join it 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 are complementary to Formula 1. But we 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, while Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Porsche have signed up for LMDh. But the LMDh rules are focused on the American IMSA Sportscar Championship, and Groupe Renault doesn’t have a presence in the US.
Rossi said that any Alpine hypercar project wouldn’t begin until 2023 at the earliest, admitting that the 100th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours that season is 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 second-rung LMP2 class.
Rossi insisted that any hypercar programme would run alongside Alpine’s F1 squad, which recently took its first victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“This is the CEO of Alpine talking: the fanbase 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 Groupe 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.”