It’s a long time since motor sport fans last saw an official Renault Sport team compete on Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship but this year they did with the Clio R3T entry of Michaël Burri.
Not a Renault Sport UK entry, this, as was once the case with the Maxi Méganes of the late Nineties.
Instead this one came all the way from Renault Sport headquarters in Paris, the Clio R3T taking part in the WRC’s WRC 3 class.
Swiss Burri and co-driver Anderson Levratti have contested six WRC 3 rounds in the factory-prepared R3T in 2016 as their prize for winning last year’s European championship for the same specification of car.
Wales Rally GB, however, posed perhaps the toughest test yet for the R3T – neither Burri nor the car had any previous experience of the event’s stages which have a gruelling reputation all of their own.
Not that the R3T seemed too bothered. Despite tackling Welsh mud and fog – sometimes in dark, night time conditions – Burri held fifth overall in WRC 3 early on before briefly running as high as third and then finishing an eventual fourth.
"This was a good learning experience for me," said Burri at the finish. "We did some testing before the rally. As has been the case this year, we used the speed of the car and took advantage of its excellent reliability to finish well in fourth place.”
"It was obviously a tough rally but we didn’t have any real problems," added Sylvain Alanore, Renault Sport Rally Team Manager. "Like all over the season, we were able to rely upon a Clio R3T with tried and tested qualities, and had no reliability issues at all throughout the weekend.
"Wales Rally GB concludes an interesting season for Michaël and the Renault Sport Rally Team. We had great reliability in all six events. We finished all the rallies, confirming reliability as one of the many strengths of Clio R3T."
At the end of its WRC 3 programme, Renault Sport Rally Team has finished fifth in the Teams standings with Burri-Levatti eighth in the driver/co-driver standings.