The current Alpine Esports Series is more than a sim racing competition, it sets Alpine’s stall up for the future of its automotive business.
Though Alpine has only been in the market for six years in its current form, its history is dripping in victory. You could say winning is in the brand’s heart and soul.
When you think about Alpine, visions of a classic A110 surrounded by the snowy banks of Monte Carlo automatically come to mind. In fact, those beautiful white-capped Alps are the reason for the brand’s name and essentially the same inspiration behind the pristine look of the sports cars that many of us have come to admire as champion quality.
The first A110 Monte Carlo Rally was the first of its kind in 1971. French engineering proved to be top-notch, with Alpine being crowned the World Rally king in the 1973 inaugural event.
Five years later, the King of the Alps took yet another huge victory lap by winning the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Like a beautiful ski trip in Courchevel, everyone needs a little down time to rejuvenate and get back to championship form, though.
And Alpine did just that.
By partnering with Renault in late 2012, the brand relaunched and even returned to circuit racing with an LMP2 protype the following year.
Just like riding a bike, the sports cars easily bounced back to their victorious ways by winning back-to-back European Le Mans Series championships in 2013 and 2014. In 2016 and 2019, the LMP2 claimed the podium in the WEC, securing crucial class wins at Le Mans in 2016, 2018, and 2019. It took the rens of the existing Renault Formula 1 team, too, in 2021.
While triumph is clearly in their DNA, Alpine continues to win beyond the grid, too.
The brand’s commitment to esports – specifically, sim racing –has taken the iconic sports brand to a new level of endurance… metaphorically speaking, that is. Alpine is like the Survivor of the sports car industry.
It outwits, outplays and outlasts the competition simply by recognizing how important esports are to the future of its brand. A quick glance at their website boasts a section solely dedicated to Alpine Esports, which was established in 2021 to “bridge the gap between reality and the virtual.”
The goal of the program is simple: compile a team of legendary sim racers, train them in their unparalleled gaming house, and compete in the world’s best virtual events, including F1 Esports Series and Le Mans Virtual Series.
And if that isn’t enough, they even host their own competition, too. The Alpine Esports Series.
“Because it’s Alpine, you know, [a] really, really famous car manufacturer, the opportunities to have a GT4 test… that’s why I went to do it. Because it was credible,” said Alpine Esports Series leader James Baldwin, a real-world British GT race winner, on the Traxion.GG Podcast when discussing how aware the automotive industry is about the value of esports to the next generation of drivers.
“I think it’s quite important for big car manufacturers and businesses to incorporate themselves in esports, for everyone involved, really.”
The winner of the Alpine Esports Series will be offered a prize drive in a shiny real-world sports car to boot. It all ties together with its existing road car decision that currently manufactures just the one sportscar, the A110, a modern interpretation of that Monte Carlo Rally winning machine.
An incredibly smart move, considering the brand is buckling up to be the “Tesla of Europe,” says Alpine’s Head of Partnerships and Esports, Guillaume Vergnas.
“The aim is to go fully electric. Fully electric sports cars… new models that will go out in [the] market by 2024/2025/2026.
“If you go on the Alpine Cars website, there is the road car part, the Formula 1 team part and then you have the esports part. So it’s a full-on pillar of our strategy.
“It’s the kind of positioning that’s helping us to develop. We need to target an audience that can purchase this kind of cars, but also a younger audience as well, because at the moment we are [mainly] targeting an older audience.”
With a manufacturing base in Dieppe, at the very top of France, the marque could expand into further esports areas outside of F1 and Le Mans, provided the road car business also expands in the near future.
“I’m relying on the next generation of [road] cars, then we can organise more on the sim racing side. So we represent more or less all the activities of the [real-world] team in a virtual sense, explained Vergnas.
Alpine’s efforts to engage with a younger audience through sim racing is an effort to make sure its brand stays relevant in the years to come as the car industry goes through a gigantic electrification shift.
By offering a fully electric sports car and also consistently being involved in esports, the next generation of drivers is free to enjoy the historical brand virtually – and soon, in the real world, too.