RAR­EFIED AIR

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - Paul Gover

RALLY driver Jean Redele es­tab­lished Alpine in 1955 fol­low­ing gi­ant-killer mo­tor­sport suc­cesses in events in­clud­ing the Mille Miglia road race in Italy and the Le Mans 24-hours in France

The garage owner from the French town of Dieppe chose the Alpine name be­cause of his wins in the Coupe des Alpes rally and used Re­nault me­chan­i­cals be­cause of his fa­mil­iar­ity with the brand, start­ing with the work­man­like 4CV.

His cars were al­ways wrapped in­side good look­ing fi­bre­glass sports car bodywork, in­clud­ing the clas­sic A110 which was a mul­ti­ple win­ner in the Monte Carlo Rally and also claimed the Cas­trol Rally in Can­berra in the 1970s with Bob Wat­son driv­ing.

Apart from sports cars, Alpine also pro­duced sin­gle-seater and sports rac­ing cars, as well as run­ning spe­cial projects for Re­nault in­clud­ing con­struc­tion of the rad­i­cal mid-en­gined R5 Turbo in the 1980s.

Alpine pro­duc­tion peaked with the rear-en­gined A310 V6 be­tween 1976 and 1984, fol­low­ing Re­nault’s pur­chase of the com­pany in 1973. In all, just 26,666 Alpines were built in France, al­though an­other 3454 were con­structed un­der li­cence in Brazil, Bul­garia, Mex­ico and Spain.

The Alpine name dis­ap­peared in 1995 but the fac­tory in Dieppe has been a pro­duc­tion hub for low-vol­ume projects, most re­cently Re­nault Sport ver­sions of the Me­gane and Clio.

Re­nault has just com­mit­ted to full fac­tory in­volve­ment in F1, hav­ing wound its in­volve­ment back in re­cent years to an en­gine sup­plier with teams in­clud­ing Red Bull Rac­ing.

Re­nault pi­o­neered tur­bocharged en­gines in mod­ern grand prix rac­ing in the 1970s as a man­u­fac­turer op­er­a­tion. It sup­plied the pow­er­plants for the world cham­pi­onships won by Wil­liams with Da­mon Hill and Jac­ques Villeneuve in the 1990s, then re­turned as a fac­tory team in the noughties when it took back-to-back cham­pi­onships with Fer­nando Alonso.

It had a dis­as­trous 2015 sea­son but now com­pany chief Car­los Ghosn is pro­vid­ing the cash and com­mit­ment for a re­turn at the Aus­tralian Grand Prix next month with young guns Kevin Mag­nussen and Jolyon Palmer as driv­ers.

The team is now known as Re­nault Sport, a name that will carry through to the next gen­er­a­tion of road cars.

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