T’was late 2009 and, with his children getting older, Nigel was able to off-load the family car and indulge in a Mégane R.S. 250 The rest, as they say, is history.
“The 250s (in Mk3 shape) had just come out, so I went and test drove one and just immediately fell in love,” recalls Nigel.
“It took me back to my youth of having a nice, fast car and I had to have it. So I went straight back to the dealership in Wrexham and part-exchanged my Modus for it. It was an ex-demonstrator in white with about 600 miles on the clock.”
What followed were six glorious years together with a track day at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire among the highlights.
“Everybody told me the best thing was to not have any upgrades and instead to go and get some track driving tuition. So like every enthusiast I totally ignored everyone and had it re-mapped. And had a Forge intercooler fitted. And a Scorpion exhaust. And Eibach springs.
“I’ve always stuck by one rule on track days: don’t go above 90 per cent of your personal limit. But at Oulton that day, unfortunately, there was a Porsche Carrera 911 S in front of me. It took five laps but I got him around the outside going through Deer Leap as you come up to the start-finish line.
“Into the first bend we were neck and neck and he had to back out of it. After the session, the owner of the Porsche came straight up and demanded to know what I’d had done to the Renault! He could not believe what had happened!”
Eventually, some 48,000 miles later, it was time to let go of the 250 and Nigel invested in a 275 Trophy.
“It was a lovely car: Liquid Yellow with all the optional extras such as Ohlins, electric folding mirrors, Akrapovic exhaust, reversing cameras and so on. But I just didn’t fall in love with it like I did the 250.”
Cue his third R.S. – a Clio 220 Trophy. “People said it wouldn’t live up to the Mégane but I love it as much as the 250! It is never out of Sport mode and never out of manual – I love using the flappy paddles! The only thing I’ve done to it was to contact R.Sport (Renault Sport’s official UK importer) and have the Clio Cup race car rear wing fitted. It is perfect.”
Nigel isn’t done yet, though. Currently he’s converting an Iceberg Silver Clio 172 for track day purposes. “It’s a 2002 car which we picked up with 112,000 miles on it. My so and I are doing it up for some fun together. We’ve just bought a Safety Devices roll cage. The next steps will be the bucket seat and harnesses, then suspension, wheels and exhaust system. It’ll be highly modified when we’re done.”
Like almost all Renault Sport enthusiasts, Nigel likes the look of the new Mégane R.S. but admits that a 5 GT Turbo would be top of his wish list.
“It would be the perfect car for track days, driving up mountains abroad or covering road trips like the North Coast 500 which the Renaultsportclub.co.uk did the last two years. That has to be one of the greatest driving experiences of my life – ten Renault Sports, Méganes and Clios, driving the most picturesque roads you could imagine.
“For me, the Renault Sport community is one of the best manufacturer followings anywhere – I’ve made some fantastic friends both in the UK and overseas. Everyone has the same passion at heart; everyone wants to help. There are a number of forums and groups out there and we’ll be announcing our 2018 events calendar in February.”