25/11/2015

Auto authors just can’t get enough of Renaultsport’s past and present

Renaultsport’s history for creating out-of-this-world cars and racing is well documented but nothing wrong with a quick refresher courtesy, this past month, of Auto Express, Top Gear and Evo magazines…
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For its focus on Renaultsport’s UK ‘hot hatch’ racing activity these past 40 years or more, Evo was given the full fleet to play with – namely a 1976 R5 TS, a 1986 5GT Turbo and Clio Cup cars from 1992, 2000 and 2015.

All that was left for its team – consisting of scribes/racers Dickie Meaden and Jethro Bovingdon, sportscar/GT ace Marino Franchitti and former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andy Wallace – to do was put them through their paces and finish their day of fun with a handicap race around the same Rockingham track lay-out on which the modern-day UK Clio Cup races.

We can’t wait for the video of the race to appear on-line, but it was clear from the printed report in Evo’s magazine and iPad version that all four men wore broad smiles throughout the day.

As Meaden reported: “If you’re a hot hatch fan it’s a sight from your wildest dreams. Seeing them all lined up reminds me of that image depicting the seven ages of man, the evolution of early 5 to current Clio graphically depicted before our very eyes, each successive generation larger and more powerful than the last.”

In Auto Express and Top Gear, it was a Renaultsport model of a different kind – albeit still with a roof over its head – that bowled over journalists as Steve Sutcliffe and Jack Rix as they got their hands on the 550hp R.S 01 silhouette Renault Sport Trophy racer at Spain’s Jerez circuit.

Auto Express’s Sutcliffe reported: “Renaultsport claims the car has more grip in fast corners than the World Series single-seaters and on this evidence we don’t doubt it.” In summing up, he said: “The magicians at Renaultsport have done it again. In fact they’ve surpassed themselves this time – and then some.”

For Top Gear’s Rix the experience was equally overwhelming. “My fingers are still trembling from the adrenaline hit,” he wrote.

There are claims that Renaultsport is working on a ‘downgraded’ version of the R.S 01 to make it eligible for competition in GT3 – currently it is too fast to be allowed in!

Rix added: “I have no official performance figures to dispense but, believe me, it has 600hp supercars covered in a straight line, then destroys them in the braking zone and leaves them flailing helplessly in the corners. That’s courtesy of the bespoke Michelin slicks, carbon-ceramic brakes and a very serious aero package that produces 1.7 tonnes of downforce at its 186mph top speed. Crikey.”

Quite.