Renault Alpine A442 - The Colour of Speed

Alpine A442B

At the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans, their huge development program paid off. Once again, the works team entered three cars: an old A442, renamed A442A; the bubble-canopied A442B; and the A443. A second A442A was entered by Ecurie Calberson. The work carried out since the 1977 race meant that, for once, Renault was on a par with the dominant Porsche 936 turbo cars, which had been improved, and the two manufacturers shared the first four rows of the grid equally. The Porsche 935/78 Moby Dick, which due to its aerodynamic layout and 800 horsepower achieved over 360 km/h on the straight, qualified third, behind the new 936 and the A443.

From the start, the A443 was the class of the field, lapping in under 3 minutes 40 seconds, while the Porsches had planned to do only 3:40 to 3:50. Jabouille took fastest lap at 3:34, which was six seconds slower than in qualifying, before the A443’s engine finally broke in the 18th hour. This was the second Renault retirement, after the Bell/Jarier A442A works car had suffered transmission failure at the half-way point. However, Pironi and Jaussaud in the A442B were well placed to inherit the lead. Two 936s had technical problems, the third crashed at 11 am. The pairing held on to the lead for the final few hours, finishing four laps ahead of the second-placed Porsche. The privateer A442A also finished well, taking fourth place behind the two remaining 936s. After the final flag Pironi was too exhausted to climb up to the podium, where Jaussaud took the trophy alone.

– Renault Alpine A442, Wikipedia

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