The first ever WRC title won by the French machine
In 1963, a new French GT car was introduced. It had a steel backbone chassis and a fiberglass body, with a Renault engine. This was the Alpine Renault A110. After being introduced in the French Rally Championship, three A110 1300G cars were driven by Gérard Larrousse and 1300S cars were driven by Jean-Claude Andruet and Jean Vinatier in the 1968 Rally Monte Carlo. Back then, the factory-backed cars entered in the Rally Monte Carlo included the Porsche 911, Mini Cooper, Lancia Fulvia, and the Fiat 124. The total number of cars registered in the rally counted over 200, and the Group 3 Class 1 that the Alpine was entered had a total of 18 cars including Fulvia, 124 and Matra. The overall championship was won by Porsche with a one-two finish, and Mini Cooper in third place. Vinatier in the Alpine finished seventh overall. In the French Rally Championship, Alpine cars had a number of victories. Andruet became champion.
In the 1969 Monte Carlo, Porsche again took the win with a one-two finish. However, Vinatier with an Alpine managed to finish third after the Porsches. Vinatier also won the French Rally Championship.
In 1970, the A110 1600 was driven by Andruet and Vinatier, while the A110 1300 was driven by Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jean-Luc Thérier. However, they were still defeated by Porsche, again with a one-two finish. Nicolas finished third after the Porsches, and Andruet won the championships for the French Rally.
In the 1971 Monte Carlo, Nicolas, Vinatier, Thérier, Andruet and Bernard Darniche drove an Alpine, as well as Ove Andersson on a wild card in order to win against Porsche. Porsche, on the other hand, entered 914/6 instead of the 911. Monte Carlo’s condition that year was heavy snow. Andersson, being Swedish, was able to handle the conditions very well. He brought the Monte Carlo win Alpine always longed for. Also, in second place was Thérier, fourth Andruet, eighth Darniche, and Vinatier in ninth place. Andersson won Sanremo, Austrian Alpine and Acropolis following his Monte Carlo win. Darniche won the Alpine rally, and Alpine team was crowned the International Manufacturers’ Title.
In 1972, Alpine struggled from the start of the season in Monte Carlo. The same drivers from the previous season were chosen, but Sandro Munari driving a Lancia Fulvia won the round. Second was Gérard Larrousse in Porsche, third was Rauno August Aaltone in a Datsun 240Z. The 1972 manufacturers’ title was won by Lancia. Alpine ranked seventeenth with only seven points earned. The French Rally Championship was won by Darniche.
1973 was the inaugural season for the WRC. Alpine entered with Darniche, Andersson, Andruet and Nicolas with an A110 1800. Their rivals included Lancia Fulvia, Fiat Abarth 124, Datsun 240Z. Alpine also entered Thérier in an A110 1800 in the Group 2 Class, a class which the Ford Escort RS1600 was competing in. For the Alpine cars, new 1800cc engines and Gordini transmissions were introduced. This year, with the Renault’s backup, Alpine’s organization structure was improved. Alpine had gained 65 staffs, so they were able to assembly change parts such as suspension and transmission which prevented machine troubles. Lancia’s Munari (the winner of the previous year) had retired early in the race. The only rival left for the Alpines were the Fords, but Andruet succeeded 5 SS and claimed the victory. Second was Andersson, and in third was Nicolas. In fourth was Hannu Olavi Mikkola of Group 2 driving an Escort, and in fifth was Thérier. Alpine won the following WRC rounds in Portugal, Morocco, Acropolis, Sanremo, Tour de Corse and managed to be crowned the first ever WRC Manufacturers’ Champion.
Soon after, the Alpine A110 left the WRC, but A110 was continuously manufactured in the Dieppe (France) factory. After 40 years since its stop the production, the new A110 was announced in 2017 at the Geneva Motor Show.
There were rumors that Toyota, which announced its sixth generation T200 Celica in 1993, had taken A110 as their inspiration for design.
In September of 2019 at the Mont Blanc Rally, the new A110 Rally car was announced to the public. In March 2020, the new A110 Rally RGT was tested by François Delecour with Team FJ. In the FIA RGT cup, Fiat 124 Abarth Rally won the title, and it is said that the Porsche 911 GT4 will be joining the competition. The involvement of Delecour and the A110 Rally RGT is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Results of Alpine Renault A110
|1973||Rallye de Monte-Carlo||J-C.Andruet||Biche|
|1973||Rali Internacional TAP||J-L.Thérier||J.Jaubert|
|1973||Rallye du Maroc||B.Darniche||A.Mahé|
|1973||Tour de Corse||J-P.Nicolas||M.Vial|