24h Le Mans
Alfa Romeo : The secret project…
Alfa Romeo : The project…
It was to challenge the Peugeot 905!
The history of Alfa Romeo is intimately linked to that of Mans ... and although the marque has been missing for 40 years the means of return exists!
It was an Englishman who first took the initiative to bring an Alfa Romeo to Le Mans in 1930. Encouraged by the brilliant performance of Lord Howe (5th and winner in his class), the factory followed suit the next year, and with success: the Italian offensive ended the domination of Bentley and continued with four consecutive victories. Yet the company abandoned endurance racing to devote themselves to Grand Prix in which Alfetta won a memorable success.
Alfa Romeo were back in 1953 with Juan Manuel Fangio in their ranks. The 6C cars were fast - 3rd and 4th after 9 hours of racing - but too fragile to see the finish. Private efforts in the 60s were no more fortunate and few Giulietta or Giulia saw the chequered flag (3 of 16). It was not until 1968 and the official return to finally see the marque return to the higher ranks: The T33 / 2 won the 2-litre class and finished closely grouped in 4th, 5th, and 6th place overall. In 1971, the T33 / 3 beat the invincible Porsche 917 at Brands Hatch with Henri Pescarolo at the controls. The climax was reached in 1975, a year marked by the domination of 33TT12 that won 7 of the 8 rounds of the World Championship, but were absent from Le Mans.
Although no Alfa Romeo has raced the 24 Hours for 40 years, the secret weapon of return was planned! It carried the code name SE 048 SP intended to challenge the Peugeot 905 and the Toyota TS010 under the 3.5 litre regulation, newly introduced in the early 90s. Long kept secret, it never went beyond private testing, and remains shrouded in mystery. Little information is available but it was to have been powered by a V10 developing more than 600 horsepower ... However, some witnesses at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2010 claimed to have seen a Ferrari V12 under the hood!
More information : Alfa Romeo Museum