Alpine A110: Top of the class

The French car dominated at the start of the World Rally Championship in the 1970s.


In the 1973 International Automobile Federation took advantage of the great boom that the rally had to create a World Cup on the basis of the International Brands Championship which was disputed since 1970. The initiative, in fact, came from the manufacturers themselves who had found in this type of competition the ideal place to show the benefits of their products.

That first contest had a dominating car: the Alpine A110, that the brand founded by Jean Redele in 1955 it had started production in 1961. Like all vehicles leaving Alpine's Dieppe plant, the A110 used various parts of Renault.

The Berlinetta, as it was also known, had been conceived as an evolution of the A108 designed on the mechanics of Dauphine, although built with elements of the Renault 8. The most noticeable difference between the two models was in the redesign of the rear in order to accommodate a larger motor. That was precisely what gave the A110 a more aggressive look.

Alpine A110: Top of the classAlpine designers never hid their admiration for Colin chapman, the legendary owner of LotusThat is why they used technologies that had already been successful in the vehicles created by the English manufacturer. The A110, of course, was no exception.

Had a tubular steel chassis and a fiberglass body as they used at that time the cars that left the Nolfolk factory. It was originally available with two types of motorization: the 1.1 L R8 Major and the R8 Gordini, the more powerful of the two with 95 hp at 6.500 rpm. Precisely, with this mechanics the A110 began to reap successes in different rally races held in France at the end of the 1960s.

Subsequently, the impeller was fitted with an aluminum block of the Renault 16 TS and two Weber 45 double-body carburettors with which it developed 125 hp at 6.000 rpm. This engine, which allowed the production version to reach the maximum speed of 210 km / h, was the one used at the start of the World Rally Championship.

The Alpine had already shown its potential during the first two years of the International Brands Championship. In the 1970 season he won in San Remo and Greece with the French Jean-Luc Thérier. Only two points separated the gala firm from the title, which was left for Porsche by the hand of the three triumphs of the Swede Björn waldegard with a 911 S (Monte Carlo, Sweden and Austria).

The revenge came in 1971 from the arrival of the Swede to the team Ove Andersson, who had already been recruited by Alpine for the decisive date of the previous tournament, although he was sidelined by an accident ... This time Andersson did not fail and thanks to the victories achieved in Monte Carlo (with 248 participants!), San Remo, Austria and Greece , Alpine won the championship with 18 units of advantage over Saab, which competed with the 96 V4.

Alpine skidding againIn 1972 the brand was left with the desire to defend the scepter due to a strike that paralyzed its production and put the company itself in check. Although he participated - and achieved success - in the French tournaments, he could do little in the International Brands Championship. He only added seven points and was far from the fight for the crown.

The Italian constructors took advantage of this setback and monopolized the first two positions with spear as monarch with the Fulvia 1.6 Coupé HF and Fiat as runner-up with the 124 Sport Spider.

The financial situation eased after the decision of Renault, which was already a minority partner in Redele's company, to acquire the majority of the share package. Once the operation was done, the Rombo normalized things and used the Dieppe facilities to establish its racing department.

In 1973, finally, Alpine returned to shine in the brand new World Rally Championship thanks to the good performance of the A110, but equipped with a 1.8-liter 170 hp engine prepared by Marc Mignotet (I had also made the other competition developments). That tournament consisted of 13 competitions, some of them classics such as the Monte Carlo Rally, Corsica and a Thousand Lakes (Finland).

In most of the tests there were controversies due to organizational problems and incidents between the teams themselves, but that did not overshadow the great performance that the French Berlinetta had, which won with all the pilots of its team: Thérier (winner in Portugal, Acropolis and San Remo ) and his compatriots Jean-Claude Andruet (Monte Carlo), Bernard Darniche (Morocco) and Jean-Pierre Nicolas (Corsica). Those half a dozen victories allowed him to clinch the crown with a 63-point lead over Fiat, his escort with the Abarth 124 Rallye.

Thus the Alpine A110 went down in history as the first WRC champion car, an honor that no one can ever take away from it.

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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, e-driver.com y kmcero.com and on the radios Rock pop y Vorterix.com. He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by RadioArroba.com; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog: automundo.com.ar.

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