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Returning a French national treasure to La Sarthe for Le Mans Classic
06 July 2018
This afternoon, a French national treasure will be back in action, and we’re not talking about the football team at the World Cup in Russia. Forty-nine years after it competed at the Circuit de La Sarthe, this Alpine-Renault A220 will turn a wheel in anger at Le Mans once again…
France means many things to many people – a great bottle of Bordeaux; a Camembert so strong you can smell it from neighbouring villages… or, to some, the emerald blue automotive jewels built by Alpine in the 1960s. Most commonly associated with rallying, French garagiste Jean Rédélé’s Dieppe-based company also made waves in sports car racing, thanks predominantly to the generous financial backing of Renault.
In 1967, when the FIA decreed that racing prototypes’ engine capacities would be capped to three litres to limit their speed at Le Mans, Alpine saw an opportunity while other manufacturers were disgruntled. Amédee Gordini, Rédélé’s trusted engine builder, got to work combining a pair of blocks and cylinder heads from the latest four-cylinder motor to create a conventional V8 with a capacity just inside the new three-litre limit.
more text pics here