The car has been developed by Sainz’s team-mate Nico Hülkenberg. But now it was the Spaniard’s turn to get behind the wheel as he was invited to drive the 280hp Mégane R.S on the Monte’s closing eight-mile La Cabanette-Sol de Braus stage.
The car was badged up as the event’s ‘00’ course car that checks the stage before the WRC competitors come through.
The Mégane R.S.’s 4CONTROL four wheel steering and four hydraulic bump stopshock absorbers were in their element on the winding stage in the picturesque Alpes Maritimes mountains that surround the Monaco principality. It was also fitted with studded tyres to help with the icy conditions and Sainz clearly enjoyed the experience.
“That was very special,” reported Sainz, adding: “The car was really good. It had different modes of driving that I was testing to get fully comfortable. You had the race mode, sport mode and a bit of traction control that you could adjust.
“The steering was very accurate and suspension was stiff for the twisty sections so I was really enjoying it a lot. It was a fantastic experience – quite slippery in places to give the full Monte Carlo experience!”
Notably, Sainz’s father Carlos Snr’s rallying career started in the mid-Eighties at the wheel of a Renault 5 Turbo. In the Nineties he went on to win the Monte three times…
Renaults have also won the Monte four times in the past – most famously in 1981 with Renault Sport legend Jean Ragnotti at the wheel of a 5 Turbo.
The new Mégane R.S. has something of an affinity with Monte Carlo – it was at last year’s Monaco F1 Grand Prix that it made its first public appearance in a distinctive ‘camouflage’ livery.
Patrice Ratti, Managing Director of Renault Sport Cars said: “Eight months after its camouflaged appearance at the Monaco Grand Prix, the New Mégane R.S. has made another public outing, this time on the roads of the 86th Rallye Monte-Carlo, before orders start to be taken in February.
“We couldn’t have dreamt of a better setting to highlight the New Mégane R.S. qualities, including ‘best in class’ chassis, which links performance, agility and stability and its competition-inspired design.
“I am particularly proud that Renault Sport Formula One Team driver Carlos Sainz, who is also a former Formula Renault champion, lent us his talent for this demonstration run. His participation expresses the close links that unite our sporting range to Renault Sport Racing.”