It appears the 24 Hours of Le Mans is shaping up to be the popular arena for automakers to outdo one another once again, with more and more major players returning to the famous endurance race.

Joining the likes of Aston Martin, Nissan, Porsche, SRT and Toyota, which have either recently returned to the event or plan to soon, Renault has confirmed today it will field an Alpine-branded prototype in this year’s race.

Renault, of course, recently announced plans to revive its Alpine performance brand with a new sports car to be developed in partnership with British firm Caterham.

While the new sports car won’t be available until 2016, Renault will attempt to keep the excitement surrounding the revival of its Alpine brand alive through various means, one of which is competing at Le Mans.

This will be the first time in 35 years that an Alpine has competed in the famous endurance race, although the new car will simply be a branded version of an LMP2 prototype from independent team Signatech.

Signatech, led by Philippe Sinault, will field the Alpine-branded prototype together with Renault and will stick to existing engine partner Nissan.

In addition to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which takes place on the weekend starting June 22, the car will also be entered in the five rounds of the 2013 European Le Mans Series.

The new car will be unveiled on March 24 and make its competitive debut at the first round of the European Le Mans Series at the Silverstone circuit on April 13.
The decision to compete at Le Mans fits perfectly with Alpine’s heritage, since the brand contested the famous race 11 times between 1963 and 1978, running a total of 55 factory cars. In addition to its successes in the ‘Energy Index’ classification in 1964, 1965 and 1968, as well as in the ‘Performance Index’ classification in 1968 and 1969, its efforts harvested seven class wins in total and, above all, outright victory in 1978 with the Alpine A442B prototype.