In fact two of the sensational machines, designed and engineering by Prodrive for rallycross’s top ‘Supercar’ class and entered by ex-skiing champion Guerlain Chicherit’s privateer GC-Kompetition team, were in action in WRX’s opening round of 2018 at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona in Spain.
One was driven by Chicherit himself; the other by former French rallycross Champion Jérôme Grosset-Janin.
Very impressively, both qualified for the event’s semi-finals – for six cars each with places reserved only for the top 12 performers in the earlier four knock-out heats. This was despite hefty opposition from much more experienced teams and machinery from VW, Audi, Ford, Citroen and Hyundai.
Also consider that in its current guise WRX has never been as competitive and that considerable development and set-up work was still being done to the two Méganes during the event as conditions changed from heavy rain and mud on Saturday to a drying track on Sunday.
Both cars are based on the ‘third generation’ Mégane R.S. and, although Prodrive has built its own bespoke engines for them, they still retain the model’s original and much reaved-about chassis and shell.
More details about their design have been released – uniquely they use a sophisticated ‘in-board’ braking system which has freed up space to allow for double wishbone suspension.
Bulging, light-weight panelling, based on the car’s original lines but sculpted to allow for the demands of rallycross, have also been fitted as have very obvious huge rear wings.
The two Méganes will soon be in action in the UK: at next month’s Speed Machine Festival event at Silverstone, round three of this year’s WRX title race (25-27 May) where visitors will also be able to sample the new fourth generation Mégane R.S. on one of the Formula 1 venue’s other circuit configurations (see separate story).
Before that comes round two of 2018’s WRX, at the Montalegre circuit in Portugal this weekend (28-29 April).
Reflecting on his team’s and the Méganes’ debut, Chicherit enthused: “Sunday was a really amazing day for GC-Kompetition. To have both cars in the semi-finals on our very first race weekend, first time in race conditions in a completely newly built car, was pretty good.
“We both had great starts which shows real promise. It’s been a really positive weekend for us; now we finally know where we’re truly at and can start working on closing the gap and keep pushing, pushing, pushing the others. We’re super motivated to challenge the long-established drivers and make it to the podium soon.”