More evidence is mounting that French performance marque Alpine may be serious about gaining a foothold in the U.S.
The latest is Alpine's announcement on Tuesday that it will enter the 2023 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, with a specially prepared version of its A110 sports car.
The A110 is Alpine's sole model at present, and confirmed by the automaker as its last to feature an internal-combustion engine. Power in the A110 normally taps out at 296 hp but the A110 Pikes Peak racer delivers nearly 500 hp from a tuned version of the sports car's mid-mounted 1.8-liter turbo-4. One of the key modifications is a roof scoop designed to force more air into the engine.
There's also the radical body work designed to generate downforce in the thin air the A110 Pikes Peak will experience as it approaches the finish line at 14,115 feet above sea level. Alpine said significant weight-saving modifications were also employed to reduce the car's weight to 2,094 pounds.
2023 Alpine A110 Pikes Peak
Alpine said it is working with French racing team Signatech, its current partner in endurance racing, on the Pikes Peak program. The automaker has also confirmed Raphaël Astier as the driver that will pilot the car. He is a successful racing driver with wins in the 2022 FIA R-GT Cup, achieved with Alpine's A110 Rally. He's also previously attempted Pikes Peak on four occasions.
Testing of the A110 Pikes Peak is currently underway at locations in the south of France. This year's Pikes Peak race is scheduled for June 25.
Racing at Pikes Peak, together with continued participation in Formula 1, will further help build awareness of Alpine in the U.S. While the automaker hasn't confirmed plans to enter this market, its CEO in January said U.S. sales is a key goal for the brand. Reports then followed in February that Alpine may partner with dealership group AutoNation to sell cars in the U.S.
All future models from Alpine will be electric. The first of these new Alpines will be a hot hatch dubbed the A290. It will be previewed next week ahead of its market debut in 2024.