2014 Alpine A450 Le Mans prototypeEnlarge Photo
After making its motorsport comeback last year, the Alpine performance division of French automaker Renault is now back for another season of motorsport, once again competing in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) with its A450 LMP2 race car. Partnered with formidable French team Signatech, and with top driver Nelson Panciatici on board, Alpine took home the 2013 ELMS title and is looking to repeat that success in 2014.
Changes to the regulations which govern ELMS mean races will be longer in 2014. The rounds will now last four hours and three drivers will share the driving. Other drivers this season include Oliver Webb and Paul-Loup Chatin.
Last year also saw Alpine finish 14th overall in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, making it the eighth fastest in the LMP2 category. This year Alpine has set its sights even higher: in addition to defending its ELMS title, it is targeting a podium finish in the LMP2 class at Le Mans.
The latest Alpine A450 is an Alpine in name only, as the car itself has been built by Signatech, and its powerplant, a 4.5-liter V-8, is supplied by Renault alliance partner Nissan. The last of the original Alpine race cars was the A443 that raced in 1978.
The first round of the 2014 season of ELMS gets underway in Silverstone this weekend. This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, meanwhile, takes place in June.
Note, Renault has plans to see the Alpine name return to the world of production cars too. The automaker has started development of a new Alpine sports car together with British firm Caterham, and while the two recently went their separate ways, development will continue and sports cars for both the Alpine and Caterham brands will still be launched by 2016.