Alpine is “leaning towards” a two-car LMP2 program in the FIA World Endurance Championship next year, according to the Renault brand’s CEO Laurent Rossi.
Alpine Elf Team currently races in Hypercar with a grandfathered LMP1 car that will be unable to continue in the top category next year when more LMHs and LMDhs arrive.
This has resulted in Alpine considering a return to LMP2 where it won the 2016 and 2018-19 drivers’ and teams’ titles plus three 24 Hours of Le Mans class victories, all with a program run by Phillipe Sinault’s Signatech team.
An LMP2 program would bridge the gap between the Alpine A480 Gibson LMP1 car and the unnamed Alpine LMDh car that is due to make its race debut at the start of 2024.
Rossi told Sportscar365 at Le Mans last weekend that the French sports car brand is looking to enter two LMP2s into next year’s WEC, with precise details yet to be defined.
It would likely use an Oreca 07 Gibson, considering that is the dominant car type in LMP2 and ORECA is also the build partner for Alpine’s LMDh car.
Furthermore, the Alpine plan is separate from the Richard Mille Racing Team program that receives technical support from Signatech.
“We will probably carry on with the same type of arrangement that we have with Philippe Sinault and Signatech,” said Rossi.
“It is a bit early to talk about it, but we are discussing it. The idea being that we continue with the same team, perhaps with two cars, so we can get ready with the second team of drivers and engineers working together and be ready for 2024 when the LMDh comes in.
“The idea will be to have no disruption, and even expand our scope.”
Pressed on how many cars will race under the Alpine name in LMP2 next year, Rossi said: “Two for Alpine. At the moment, we would be leaning towards two [cars] in LMP2.”
Moving to LMP2 will have two main benefits for Alpine, ahead of its 2024 return to the Hypercar class.
One advantage is that Alpine can keep its current Hypercar team active in a transition year, while another is that it can maintain its marketing momentum in the WEC.
“We don’t want disruption,” Rossi explained.
“It would be too hard to restart, reboot and be competitive in 2024 with a year of disruption. We want to keep the team united and on their toes.
“It is good to be in endurance. We speak to another portion of our fanbase and customers.
“Not everyone is a fan of F1, and we have to be aware of it. Also the history of Alpine is deeply rooted in endurance, and rally.
“So for us it makes a lot of sense to be here. If it’s not LMP1 or LMDh, then LMP2 will do.”
Alpine Asked for Extra Year with LMP1 Car
Rossi confirmed that Alpine asked for an additional year of grandfathering for its ORECA-built LMP1 car, which started life as the Rebellion R13 in 2018, using the Oreca 07 LMP2 as a base.
However, it is understood that this request was rejected by the WEC organizers.
The Alpine A480 has been a special case in the last two WEC seasons, as the only remaining LMP1 car active against the LMH machinery from Toyota and Glickenhaus.
Balance of Performance measures have enabled it to compete in the same class as the LMHs, which are inherently slower than cars built to the previous LMP1 regulations.
“Next year there’s going to be more than one main contender in the top category, and they wouldn’t see it that well to have another exception for us,” said Rossi, who described the rejection as “understandable and fair”.