Alpine at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1/3): The Early Years (1963-1968)

Alpine at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1/3): The Early Years (1963-1968)

This year is Alpine

Jean Redelé’s cars became well-known in the early seventies when the famous A110 made a name for itself in the Rally World Championships. However, Alpine also has an ongoing love affair with the Le Mans 24 Hours. Here are five instalments in the epic story:

Two winners in the cockpit - Two drivers who raced for Alpine have also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans: Jean Guichet and Gérard Larrousse, winners in 1964 and 1973-74 respectively.

Michel Vaillant and Alpine! - One Alpine driver at Le Mans, Henri Grandsire, shot to fame when he played the character of Michel Vaillant in a television series based on Jean Graton’s comic book series. Grandsire also features in Alpine’s record books as the driver who led the marque to its first top ten result at Le Mans, in 1966.

The Four Aces of 1966 - Henri Grandsire and Leo Cella came ninth, but were the first of a series of Alpines: Jacques Cheinisse and Roger de Lageneste came tenth, Guy Verrier and Robert Bouharde eleventh and Mauro Bianchi and Jean Vinatier twelfth.

André de Cortanze, driver and engineer - Before he came up with the brilliant design for the Peugeot 905 that won Le Mans in 1992 and 1993, André de Cortanze was a racing driver with Alpine. In 1968 he and teammate Jean Vinatier finished eighth. At the time, André’s father Charles was none other than the race director.

1967 & 1968: constancy and performance - The Alpine A210 confirms its reputation for reliability with two more top ten finishes: In 1967 José Rosinski and Henri Grandsire finished ninth followed by Alain Leguellec and André de Cortanze in tenth place. The following year, Vinatier and de Cortanze managed eighth while Jean-Luc Thérier and Bernard Tramont clinched another tenth place for Alpine.

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO — Translated from French by Emma Paulay

Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, LE MANS 24 HOURS, SATURDAY 18 & SUNDAY 19 JUNE 1966. While Ferrari and Ford were busy tussling for the top spot, Alpine cornered its first top ten place overall, with the A210 driven by Henri Grandsire and Leo Cella.