PARIS — Renault’s new sports division Alpine will enter the 2021 World Endurance Championship with an LMP1 car, in a series that contains the Le Mans 24 Hours race, the brand said in a statement on Monday.
Renault’s new CEO, Luca de Meo, sees Alpine as central to the automaker’s recovery and this month announced Renault’s Formula One team will be rebranded as Alpine next year.
Alpine said “potential synergies with the F1 team are being studied.”
The car will be built around an Oreca chassis and Gibson engine in the LMP1 category, Alpine’s general manager, Patrick Marinoff, said.
Alpine will line up in the LMP1 next year with the Signatech team. Alpine are competing in this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours in the LMP2 category, also with Signatech.
“The timing is just right now for Alpine to move up in LMP1. Renault has clear, strong ambitions to position it as the sports brand of the group, and therefore it makes sense to raise the bandwidth of Alpine,” Marinoff said during a conference call with reporters.
Reuters reported last week that de Meo had written in an internal memo that Renault might have to cut more costs than initially planned to get out of the red.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated problems including a downward trajectory in earnings since 2018, the automaker’s ability to generate cash, and new models that were not profitable enough.
In his internal memo, de Meo said he wanted to broaden the Alpine’s range of vehicles beyond the current A110. A source close to Renault said de Meo wanted to swiftly introduce a semi-convertible version of the A110.