Alpine has left the door open to an LM Hypercar or LMDh programme on the confirmation of its graduation to the top class of the FIA World Endurance Championship next year.
The Renault-owned sportscar manufacturer stressed that its commitment to racing for overall victories with long-term partner Signatech encompasses only a 2021 campaign with the Gibson-powered Oreca design that is currently racing as the Rebellion R-13.
But Alpine sales and competition director Regis Fricotte said that the marque would be evaluating its options for the future.
“LMH and LMDh will open a new environment, so we will look at it and make our decision in due time together with Signatech,” said Fricotte. “We have an opportunity now and we are looking at what is going to happen with LMH and LMDh.
“For the future we will continue managing the way we have managed in the past: we entered the European Le Mans Series in 2013 and then we felt it was good to move to the WEC a couple of years later [in 2015]. We want to take it step by step.”
Fricotte described Signatech’s graduation from LMP2 to LMP1 using the Oreca-Gibson package as a “one-shot opportunity”.
Existing privateer LMP1 cars are being allowed to race alongside the new breed of LMH cars in 2021. There has been no suggestion so far from the rule makers, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA, that so-called grandfathered P1 machinery will allowed to race on into 2022, when LMP2-based LMDh cars will be allowed.
#1 Rebellion Racing R-13 – Gibson: Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato
Photo by: Erik Junius
Alpine managing director Patrick Marinoff underlined Renault’s commitment to the marque and stated that its range of road cars is set to grow.
“Groupe Renault has clear ambitions to move Alpine upwards and make it the sports brand of the group, so now is the time to raise the bar for Alpine and Signatech,” he said.
He described the opportunity to race an existing LMP1 chassis as “a great chance to start this project and still keep costs at an acceptable level”, adding: “This is a tremendous opportunity we could not let go.”
Signatech boss Philippe Sinault explained that the timeline of the programme means that there will be little opportunity to develop the Oreca chassis ahead of next season.
“We have a good base: my main concern is to have a good knowledge to find a good way to operate and set up the car,” he said.
He suggested that it might be possible to call on the services of the renamed Alpine Formula 1 team in Enstone to help on simulation and set-up.
He revealed that the first test of the Alpine-badged Oreca, which will be a third, so far unraced chassis, should take place before the end of the year.
No drivers have as yet been signed for the programme, but Sinault said that he will be talking to the team’s existing LMP2 crew – Andre Negrao, Thomas Laurent and silver-rated Pierre Ragues – about opportunities for next year.
A type number has yet to be assigned to the LMP1 car, which will race under the ‘Alpine Endurance Team’ banner.
Signatech’s line of LMP2 Orecas since 2013 have raced as the A450, the A460 and the A470. The nomenclature follows that of the prototypes Alpine raced at Le Mans from 1963, culminating in the A442B that triumphed in the hands of Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in 1978.
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