The Clio R3T showed all its potential on its French Rally Championship debut at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine, with Manu Guigou guiding the latest member of the Renault Sport Technologies range to an emphatic Class R win. Also driving the works car, the young Quentin Gilbert gathered valuable technical data that will soon be put to use for our customers.
The Renault Clio R3T’s debut at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine was eagerly awaited by the experts, with French rally legend Jean Ragnotti among those making the trip to Haute-Savoie to see the car in action.
Quentin Gilbert and his co-driver Renaud Jamoulles were among the four crews to get a drive in the works car, the others being Manu Guigou/Marine Murat, Jeremie Serieys/Jean-Francois de Montredon and Fabiano Lo Fiego/Damien Mezy.
Manu Guigou took to the lead in the R class in the very first stage. Something of a specialist when it comes to the French Rally Championship, the Vaucluse driver wasted little time in pulling away from the rest of the field, going fastest in the first four specials.
Quentin Gilbert endured a far more problematic start, losing fully eight minutes on SS2: “I locked the brakes up going round a hairpin on a descent. The car skidded and slammed into a wooden barrier. Though we lost a lot of time, the Clio R3T is solid and kept going. With our chances of winning long gone, our objective was to get as much information as possible together for Renault Sport Technologies.”
On leg two Manu Guigou could afford to take it easy on the trickiest sections, completing a masterful drive to secure the class win and fifth place overall. Despite the presence of three 4WD R5s in the field, the Clio R3T posted an impressive 60% of the fastest times in the R class.
Competing in the Renault Twingo R2 EVO, reigning French junior rally champions Axel Garcia and Fabien Pomares had to contend with a series of engine cutouts, though the man from Herault was able to string some fast times together at the end of the event, going third-quickest in the R2 class in the tenth and final special.
WHAT THEY SAID
Jean-Pascal Dauce, Renault Sport Technologies’ Director of Motorsport: “Our objective on the Clio R3T’s first French Championship outing was nothing less than a class win, and it gave us a lot of satisfaction to see Manu Guigou on top of the podium. With 70 percent of the fastest times in the R3 class, he drove a very classy race. It’s been no surprise to see him produce a performance like this though, because we’ve known for a long time just how much quality he has. Quentin Gilbert was forced to drive a different race after SS2, but he was able to refocus and get a lot of information for us. Thanks to the feedback he provided, we’ve been able to enrich our database, and the information we’ve gleaned from this weekend will benefit the customers who make the Renault Clio R3T their choice.”
Emmanuel Guigou: “I’d been waiting for this event for a long time. It was important, both for me and the team, to try and be among the leaders. It was a tough fight and that makes this win all the more special. I’m proud to have secured the first win in the Clio R3T, having done the same with the Clio R3 and the Megane N4 a few years ago. I had fun all the way through the rally, and we didn’t have any problems with the car. The Clio R3T was reliable and efficient and showed that it’s got a lot of potential. It’s very exciting to think that this is only the start for it.”
Quentin Gilbert: “After my shunt in SS2 I had a pretty good rally. We worked the whole time with the engineers on the chassis and the engine mapping. The team was able to gather a whole lot of data and our performance steadily improved. I didn’t want the rally to end because I was feeling really good in the last few specials. I’d like to thank Renault Sport Technologies for their confidence in me. It was my first rally as an official driver and it’s been a very rewarding experience for me.”
Axel Garcia: “Luck’s still not on our side, though I was pleased to get some good times at the end of the rally. Despite the problems we had, I enjoyed driving the Twingo R2 EVO, and I’m feeling more confident now ahead of the Rallye de France – Alsace. That’s going to be a big occasion because I’ll be driving the all new Clio R3T. We’ve all seen how it’s performed this weekend and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”
source: Renault Sport