The opening round of Renault Sport’s WRC 3 World Championship programme, Rally de Portugal provided Clio R3T with a real test. Given the rough road surface, Andrea Crugnola and Michele Ferrara made a cautious start. Whilst several crews were forced to retire, they remained in contention just a few seconds adrift of the podium places throughout Friday’s leg. Their hunt for points took a blow at the end of the day, however, when they lost precious time after picking up two punctures.
Gradually, the Italian crew fought their way back towards the front of the field on the back of some solid performances on Saturday. Having avoided the pitfalls that had got the better of other competitors, the Renault Sport team’s Clio R3T crew moved into sixth place ahead of Sunday’s final three stages. Following two runs, in particular, on the legendary and hugely popular Fafe stage, the Renault Sport crew consolidated their sixth place, securing important points for the WRC 3 World Championship.
“I’m very pleased with the final outcome,” admitted Andrea Crugnola. “I would like to thank the entire team, the ASM team and Renault Sport Technologies, because the Clio R3T was perfect. The set-up was better after every service period. The aim was to finish the rally and we managed to do just that. It wasn’t easy by any means, given the very rough conditions. More or less all of our rivals had difficulties. We set some good times, but we know there is still a lot of room for improvement. This has been a good start, so we can now work on making progress and aiming for an even better result next time out.”
For Renault Sport, the work done in Portugal provides an excellent initial base upon which to build and improve during this World Championship programme. “The first official outing of Clio R3T at World level was a success,” noted Sylvain Alanore, Team manager, Renault Sport Technologies. “The conditions were really tough, however. The roads were very demanding for the cars. Clio R3T has proven it is reliable, having successfully negotiated the obstacles of this event. The car made it to the end after a rally during which it worked perfectly. The punctures meant we lost time, but it was almost inevitable on this kind of surface. Sixth place is encouraging and shows that the crew and the team are ready. We can build on this result when preparing for our next event in Sardinia.”
Rally Italia Sardegna will be held on 11-14 June.