Rumors circulating the French motorsport press indicate that Renault could be planning a full-on assault on Le Mans by 2015.
Le Mans is France's premier racing event, particularly since the French Grand Prix is no longer part of the Formula One World Championship. So it should only stand to reason that one of the major French automakers should be competing at the top level. But Peugeot canceled its program last year, Citroen remains focused on the World Rally Championship and Bugatti hasn't competed in decades. But new reports suggest that Renault could be planning a new Le Mans racing effort.
The program would, according to rumors from France, begin in 2015 – the same year that Renault aims to launch its new Alpine sportscar – leading to speculation that the Renault endurance racing program would actually carry the Alpine badge. Although the rumors point to a full-on LMP1 assault against Audi and Toyota, the first step could see Renault supplying engines to various LMP2 teams. Its sister company Nissan already powers the majority of these second-tier prototype racers, so we could be looking at a simple rebranding exercise.
But we could also be looking at a new endurance racing engine based on Renault's RS34 engine it supplies to Formula One teams like Red Bull and Lotus. The move would certainly make sense as Renault has been scaling back its involvement in F1 from a full team owner to an engine supplier. But we'll have to wait to find out for sure, with some sort of announcement expected shortly.