It has been some 35 years since Alpine has hit the track, but now the Renault-owned performance brand will be participating in the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hours and the European Le Mans championship. The Alpine return to sports car racing is part of Renault's attempt to revitalize Alpine. The automaker has previously announced that it has begun development of a road car in cooperation with sports car maker Caterham which is intended for sale in 2016. Carlos Tavares, Renault's chief operating officer, commented on the return in a statement: "Alpine's return to the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours in 2013 marks the beginning of a new adventure which is set to last."
Alpine is partnering with Signatech (Philippe Sinault-run team) for its Le Mans effort. The car will be an Alpine LMP2 prototype with Alpine chassis and powered by a 500 hp Nissan engine. It will run in the European Le Mans Series (in all five rounds) starting April 13 including Le Mans. Two drivers have been announced: Jean Ragnotti and Guy Fréquelin so far, but the third will not be revealed until the car is presented at Le Castellet, France, on March 24.
Renault is clearly excited about Alpine's return to racing, as expressed by Tavares in the statement announcing the move: "The passion that drives us is matched only by the humility and careful attention paid to costs that epitomize this comeback which itself has been made possible thanks to the involvement of our partners and supporters who I would like to thank formally here. Together, step by step, we will do our very best to write another exciting page in the history of Alpine, a truly outstanding name in the world of French sports cars. "