Alpine A442 B

Cette collection est une adaptation de 24H Le Mans ® Le auto delle corsa più leggendaria al mondo Éditeur : Centauria Editore s.r.l. 


After a series of successful placings and retirements, the French Alpine team in 1978 gave absolute priority to endurance racing rather than Formula 1, a category on which it would concentrate from the following season. The car it presented at the start was the A442, launched in 1975 and successor to the 440 and 441 developed by Alpine in Dieppe at the time when the company was bought by Renault.

After struggling for 3 years in the Sport-Prototype World Championship, with only one illusive initial victory in 1975 at the 1,000 km of Mugello, the Renault-Alpine team looked at the 1978 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as its last chance to win. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

The A442 was a good car that combined the skills of the best workshops in Renault's network, from Alpine to Gordini, who made the 2-litre V6 turbo engine that produced 500 bhp. This engine represented the most advanced evolution of the six-cylinder engine with which the A441 had won the European Sport-Prototype Championship in the 2-litre category in 1974.

Equipped with a Garrett turbocharger and reaching a top speed of 10,000 revs, it suffered from a series of reliability problems that caused the A442 to withdraw several times in 1976 and 1977. 

1. The wind-tunnel-tested plexiglass wrap-around windscreen improves aerodynamics to the point of increasing the car's top speed by almost 10 km/h, even though it makes the passenger compartment suffocating and reduces visibility.

2. The engine, a supercharged 1,997 cm3 90° V6, develops 500 bhp. On the sole A443 entered at Le Mans, this power reached 520 bhp.

3. The Alpine A442s feature a bonnet air intake positioned high above the passenger compartment: an effective solution for supplying fresh air to the engine positioned just behind the driver.

© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

For the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Renault team sponsored by Elf lined up three slightly different cars. The first, driven by Jean-Pierre Jarier and Derek Bell, was an A442 that had been entered in the previous two seasons. For the occasion, it was renamed the A442 A to differentiate it from the 'type B' driven by Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. This version was distinguished by its large roof-mounted windscreen and aerodynamic spoiler.

The third car was the first and only A443, stretched by 15 cm on the wheelbase and with a cubic capacity of 2,138 cm3, almost to the limit set by the regulations which, in order to equalise turbocharged and naturally-aspirated 3-litre engines, stipulated that a cubic capacity multiplier of 1.4 be applied to the first. There was a fourth A442 at the start, with characteristics dating from the previous year, entered by the semi-official Calberson team, and driven by three drivers with different backgrounds, ranging from rallying to Formula 1: Jean Ragnotti, Guy Fréquelin and José Dolhem.

1.  On the 1978 A442 and A443, the bases of the rear wing supports were modified to incorporate air intakes. Only the Calberson team car retained its 1977 configuration.

2. In 1978, two-seater sports cars classified in Group 6 competed in a special championship. From 1979 onwards, the prototypes were allowed to compete in the World Championship for Manufacturers alongside Group 5 cars.

© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

Victory went to the A442 B. Its victory was due in particular to its windscreen, which gave it greater speed despite a significant reduction in visibility and comfort for the drivers. Part of this success was down to the A443 of Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Patrick Depailler, capable of keeping up with the Porsche 936 for most of the race, pushing the Porsche's pace to the point of mechanical failure, a problem that the French car also encountered in the end. At this stage of the race, with the German car having to slow down, the A442 B was taking the lead and held on to it until the finish. Jabouille was pleased to finish the race with the Calberson team in 4th place in the absolute standings. After this big victory, Renault was finally able to give up endurance racing and concentrate on Formula 1, where it would enter a 1.5-litre V6 turbo engine derived from that of the A442 from 1979 onwards.

A. The principal sponsor of the Alpine A442 is the oil company Elf, linked to Renault by a partnership dating back to 1968. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

B.The long-tail A442 has an aluminium chassis reinforced with steel components and a resin and fibreglass body. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

C. Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud celebrate their victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. For the event, the A442's uncomfortable wrap-around windscreen was removed. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

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