by Groupe Renault - Event

Geneva 2014: the Alpine A442B on show on the 24 hours Le Mans stand

The 24 hours Le Mans are one of the highlights of this year's Geneva Motor Show. Come meet the Alpine A442B that won the 1978 edition of the Le Mans 24 hours thanks to drivers Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud at the back of our stand or via our virtual tour. We're also giving you access to exclusive pictures from "back then", to revive the spirit of Alpine, that made Renault history in competition.

alpine-a442-geneve

Alpine at the 24 hours Le Mans 1978

On 12 June 1978, the Renault Alpine driven by Pironi and Jaussaud finished first at Le Mans, culminating an adventure that had started five years earlier.

Victory at the 24-hour Le Mans event is never a hit-or-miss affair. Renault’s 1978 victory, for example, traces back to 1973, when Alpine decided to return to top-level motor sports with backing from Elf. Key factors behind this successful performance were: a top-quality team, led by Jean Terramossi with Gérard Larousse as pivot; a V6 engine developed by Bernard Dudot, future mastermind of turbocharger technology; Renault involvement, through Renault Sport (founded in 1976); and talented, consistent drivers like Jabouille, Jaussaud, Jarier and Pironi.

Over the five-year period, the A440, with a normally-aspirated engine, would evolve into the 441, then into the turbocharged 442, achieving a long list of motor sport championship honours along the way. Hopes ran high for Le Mans in 1977, but all three runners were forced to drop out because of engine failure. The engineers would have to find a test track capable of reproducing the tough conditions of the Hunaudières straight, which meant 50 seconds with the throttle hard down! The next year, two Renault Alpines finished first and fourth. Ironically, on the eve of the race, Renault managing director Bernard Hanon had announced that Renault would be dropping its Le Mans programme to concentrate on Formula One. A new page had turned.

Source : Renault Classic

atelier

Alpine-Renault A442 in the atelier for the competition prototypes in Dieppe, in 1976.

gordini-pilotes

The dream team : D. Pironi, A. Gordini, G. Larrousse, J.-P. Jaussaud at the 24 hours le Mans in 1978.

pesage

Crucial step in the competition: weigh-in. Renault Alpine's with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Gérard Larrousse, Derek Bell and Jean Ragnotti, at the 24 hours Le Mans 1978.

course

Alpine-Renault A442B at the 24 hours Le Mans 1978.

victoire

Podium for team Pironi - Jaussaud and Alpine!

champs-elysees

Driving down the Champs-Elysées in the Renault Alpine on June 13, 1978.