Alpine is hoping that its LMP1 car could be grandfathered for an additional season in the FIA World Endurance Championship in order to serve as a “transition year” towards a possible project with a LMDh or Le Mans Hypercar in 2023.
The Alpine A480 Gibson, which previously ran as a Rebellion R13, is currently only grandfathered for one season per WEC regulations, which leaves questions over whether an extension will be granted by the FIA and ACO for it to race in the top Hypercar category for an additional year.
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi, who said the manufacturer will make a decision on a future program by the end of the year, admitted that 2022 is a “bit more complicated” for the brand as it would not be able to have a new car ready in time.
“It doesn’t just depend on us,” said Rossi. “There are conversations to be had with organization of the competitions.
“Obviously this is also an elemental decision. A critical point: how do we transition between now and then, to the LMH/LMDh era. The desire is here.
“We would not be ready for 2022 in either category. It would have to be post that, in 2023.
“That is also a criteria in our decision-making process at the moment. We would have to see how we can best carry on our partnership and build on the next era with the current team.
“We will have to figure out with the organizers, with both governing bodies, how to best ensure this transition period and hopefully still use, potentially, the LMP1.”
When asked by Sportscar365 if the WEC is prepared to extend the ORECA-built LMP1 car’s eligibility, ACO President Pierre Fillon said: “You have to wait for the answer.”
Signatech team principal Philippe Sinault has suggested that the team could be forced to revert to a LMP2 program if WEC does not grant them an extension.
“For sure next year it will be a transition year,” Sinault told Sportscar365. “If something happens with Alpine, it will be a compromise.
“Maybe we will come back in LMP2 for one year to continue to form drivers, but we don’t know exactly.
“Sure we have the [LMP1] car. The decision is not Alpine’s now. It’s the ACO and FIA’s.”
Signatech a “Good Partner” for Alpine’s Top-Class Future
Rossi has praised the Sinault-led Signatech squad, suggesting they would continue with the team should it commit to a long-term future in top-class endurance racing.
Alpine Endurance Team became the first French entrant since Peugeot to finish on the overall podium in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend.
“Signatech has been the one carrying the flag long before Alpine was a business unit, which was this year,” said Rossi. “We owe them a big deal of recognition.
“At the same time, they are experts at what they’re doing. They have won Le Mans three times in LMP2, three times the world championship in their category. They are very seasoned partners.
“So there is no reason why, if we were to carry on, I would part with such a good partner. I feel like being very frank that if there is a future which is something I’m strongly considering at the moment, it would have to be with Signatech.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report