- Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:48 pm
Alpine A220 '68
With financial backing from Renault, Alpine prototype racers recorded many class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the mid 1960s. These nimble racers were the result of the collaboration of Jean Redele's Alpine and Aimedee Gordini, who was responsible for the engines. They were especially successful in the Index of Performance, in which the most efficient racers fight for top honors.
A dramatic rule change at the end of the 1967 season brought Alpine closer to building a contender for the overall victory. From 1968 onwards, prototype racers' displacement was limited to three litres, which left the Ferraris and Fords obsolete. Gordini's largest engine used in the Le Mans racers was a 1.5 litre 'four'. By mounting two of those four cylinder blocks on a single crankcase, Gordini created a V8 engine displacing just under 3 litres.
The end result was a very conventional V8, with four chain driven overhead camshafts. The fuel / air mixture was initially fed through four Weber Carburetors, but later on a Fuel Injection system was also tested. Power for the 'carb' engine was quoted at 310 hp and the Fuel Injection model with a higher compression was said to be good for around 350 hp. The five speed gearbox was sourced from the German ZF company.
Alpine constructed a tubular spaceframe chassis for the V8 to be mounted in. Suspension was by wishbones all-round, with coil springs over dampers. Dubbed A220, the new car shared its body design with the smaller A210 model. The complete package was as good looking as the previous racers, but with the team venturing into a new class, would it be as successful?
The first A220 made its debut early in the 1968 season, but proved underpowered and unreliable. Four cars were entered at Le Mans, but only one managed to finish the race in eighth position in front of three A210s. None of the three cars entered in the 1969 race made it to the finish. The few A220 victories did score, were in a number of minor races in France.
Although the A220 design was further developed with a push-rod rear suspension, the sports car program was suspended at the end of 1969 as Alpine focussed on rallying. A new generation of V6-engined prototype racer emerged in 1973 and it would evolve into the 1978 Le Mans winning A442.
The first A220 made its debut early in the 1968 season, but proved underpowered and unreliable. Four cars were entered at Le Mans, but only one managed to finish the race in eight position in front of three A210s. None of the three cars entered in the 1969 race made it to the finish. The few A220 victories were scored in a number of minor races in France. Alpine had to wait another 10 years for the well deserved overall victory.
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