It was six years ago when the Alpine A110 was nothing but a sketch on a paper. While the design team under guidance of Antony Villain was still deciding the final form of the car that would bring the French brand back to life, the company’s management looked for a second route to awaken Alpine. In Philippe Sinault, the driving force behind the Signatech Team, they found the right man to unite the past and the future of Alpine through motorsports.
Philippe Sinault never had an Alpine car before he dived into the adventure. Sure, like any Frenchman, he too knew people who drove them—his neighbour and uncle had an Alpine—but to own one himself was just a dream. That dream turned into reality when he met with then-Alpine deputy managing director Bernard Ollivier to discuss the reawakening of the Dieppe-based sportscar manufacturer.
“Back in 2012 Bernard Ollivier and I sat down with a cup of coffee,” Sinault remembers.
“We said: ‘Alright, Alpine… Let’s do this and create a story in the same way as how it once all started. First, we go into motorsports and lay the foundation, then we come back with production cars.’”
And so the story of Alpine’s resurrection began. While in Dieppe the A110 turned from a sketch into a design into a prototype into a final road car, Signatech Alpine Matmut entered its Alpine-branded Orecas in the European Le Mans Series, FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans, scoring championship wins and crowning itself 2016 Le Mans winner.
With the Alpine A110 finally here, a new chapter for Sinault’s Signatech begins: to organise the Alpine Europa Cup, a one-make series centered around the brand-new Alpine A110 Cup. Apart from running the championship, Signatech is also tasked with building not just the Cup version but the GT4 as well.
“Setting up the Cup championship is really special for me; it’s a new step for my company,” Sinault says.
“When we first saw the A110 production car, we already felt we needed to do something with it: a Cup championship or something similar.
“Thanks to Alpine’s trust in us, my company can make this next step. We are now a small manufacturer; a small version of AMG. This is very important for the company and I’m very proud of this, as well as Alpine being our partner for some years now.”
The pride can be read on his face. With every word his appreciation for what Alpine means to his team is tangible. Sinault continues: “We have a good, fair deal with Alpine for the Cup and the GT4. We buy a frame without seats, wheels, gearbox, et cetera from Dieppe—we only buy what we need for the race cars. 60-percent of the parts of the production version are carried over to the race car. We then add our own specially designed parts when we build up the car.
“The first Cup race is in June. If you would go to the work shop now, you’ll see the lights on all night long. We’re building all the cars and the first race is already soon. It’s another success story: 18 cars will start the race, a number we’re quite pleased with.
“The first race of the Alpine A110 GT4 will be on the 14th of July in the French GT Championship at Dijon. CMR has bought two GT4s which they will race. We won’t be racing or maintaining the cars ourselves; we don’t want to race against our customers.”
This summer, aside from the first competition meters of the Alpine A110 Cup and GT4, another milestone will be reached that fulfills the promise made six years ago: “The next big step is Le Mans. This will be the first Le Mans where the new Alpine A110 will be at. That was the original goal of the project.”