French sports car marque Alpine has announced plans to enter the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) class of the World Endurance Championship starting in the 2021 season.
The LMP1 class will be run alongside the new Le Mans Hypercars (LMH) class in the top echelon of WEC next season, with ByKolles Racing also confirmed to run an LMP1 entry and Toyota and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus confirmed to run LMH entries. Balance of performance rules will mean the two classes should be competitive.
Alpine will compete as the Alpine Endurance Team, using an LMP1 car based on an Oreca chassis and running a Gibson power unit. The car will be this year's Rebellion R13, originally built by Oreca for departing Swiss team Rebellion Racing.
The news comes just days after Alpine announced plans to enter the Formula One World Championship starting in 2021, via a rebrand of the current Renault team. Renault is the parent company of Alpine. In a statement Monday, Alpine said potential synergies between the F1 and WEC teams are being studied.
The moves mean Alpine will be the only automaker competing at the top level in both F1 and endurance racing, and they're also a clear sign of Renault and new CEO Luca de Meo's commitment to Alpine. You can take this as meaning there's likely to be more product on the way for Alpine, including possibly an SUV. The lineup at present consists of only the A110 sports car which sells less than 5,000 units annually.
Alpine has been competing in WEC since 2013 but in the lower LMP2 class, with partner Signatech which will continue to work with Alpine in the new LMP1 campaign.
There are still two rounds to go in the current 2019/2020 WEC season, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans on this weekend. Alpine is currently ranked sixth in the LMP2 Teams' Championship.