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Frankfurt show: Renault Sport wants ’Ring record back

King of the ’Ring: Renault Sport is planning a track-focused Megane RS with the aim of setting a new front-drive lap record at the notorious Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Hardcore Renault Megane RS in works to steal Nurburgring lap record from Honda

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Renault logo13 Sep 2017

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

RENAULT Sport is already developing a hardcore, stripped-out version of the just-revealed fourth-generation Megane RS with clear intentions of swiping the front-drive Nurburgring lap record from Honda’s manic Civic Type R.

To comfortably beat the 235kW/400Nm Type R’s 7:43.80m time, Renault Sport may need more than the upcoming 224kW Trophy variant that was announced at Frankfurt and will be 19kW more potent than the standard RS when it enters production towards the end of 2018.

Speaking with Australian media following the new hot Megane’s unveiling, Renault Sport Cars managing director Patrice Ratti said the car to take Honda’s crown was “not with the version we sell now”.

“The two previous (record-setting) cars we developed later on (from original launch) were a specific version, less weight, a limited edition – we’re right now studying that option,” he said.

Mr Ratti also pointed out that previous record-setting variants were variously tweaked and lighter-weight special editions and that Renault Sport engineers had managed to boost the outgoing 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine from 172kW in original form to 205kW by the end of its lifecycle.

But he maintained that horsepower bragging rights had never been the company’s intention.

“Already we started at 280hp (with the new engine) and within one year we will get 300hp,” he said.

“I don’t know where we will be in the future but it’s not our goal to be the most powerful in the segment, our goal is to give the most pleasure and to be fast on the track … 10, 20hp is not that much on the track time, you can overcompensate by efficiency in the cornering.”

Asked for specifics about modifications that would bring the Nurburgring honours back to France, Mr Ratti simply said he had “asked the engineers to beat the record (but) didn’t tell them how to”.

Renault’s most recent ’Ring title was set in May 2014 when a third-generation Megane in RS275 Trophy-R guise lapped the Nordschleife in 7:54.36m, having undergone a 101kg weight-loss program (compared with the standard Trophy variant) to tip the scales at 1280kg.

Previous Renault records were set by the Megane RS Trophy in 2011 and the super-light R26.R, based on the second-generation Megane, in 2008.

Mr Ratti clarified that the new Megane RS weighs in at around 1400kg rather than the 1500kg stated by some media outlets, so the more powerful fourth-generation model could come close to the third-generation Trophy-R’s figure if a similar mass reduction is achieved.

He conceded that the 4Control rear-wheel steering came with a weight penalty, and described it as “not that obvious in the lap time” but described the system as “worth its weight in the driving pleasure it gives you”.

Similarly, while the new EDC (dual-clutch) transmission option will broaden global appeal of the Megane RS beyond manual-loving purists and make it quicker in the hands of most drivers, Mr Ratti suggested the unit’s additional weight meant a manual would be the best option for setting lap records.

“A very good driver with the manual gearbox will probably go a little bit faster (both on track and in a straight line) than with EDC,” he said.

Renault is yet to announce an official 0-100km/h acceleration time for the new Megane RS but Mr Patti said he expected it to be “a little under 6.0 seconds”.

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