Renault has been a star participant of the Goodwood Festival of Speed since 2001, when it appeared in consecutive years until 2006, returning in 2012 to appear every year since.
Staged in the beautiful grounds of Goodwood House amid England’s picturesque South Downs, the Festival provides the arrestingly incongruous sight of high-powered racing cars charging flat-out up the hill that is the house’s driveway. Grand domestic drive it might be, but this hillclimb provides considerable challenges, from a tree-lined blast to the first curve, a hidden, tight left-hander that has claimed many a victim and a flat-out sprint past an ancient flint wall.
Racing cars and Goodwood have been synonymous for decades, the first motorsport event taking place in 1936, when the ninth Duke of Richmond organized a hillclimb through the grounds of the house. World War 2 brought this activity to a close, but also prompted the construction of a nearby airfield whose perimeter road would eventually become the famous Goodwood motor circuit. The first race was held in 1948 and the last in 1966. When major car enthusiast Charles Gordon-Lennox, the current Earl of March, was prevented from restarting races at the circuit, he decided to stage his own festival of speed in the grounds of Goodwood House.
The event first attracted 30,000 visitors but now draws 180,000, many considering it the finest motoring event in Britain. Besides the hillclimb and its mouth wateringly exotic racing cars there is also a concours d’elegance featuring knowledgeable celebrity judges, an air display, events for younger visitors and vast amounts more. A particular highlight is the paddock, where fans can stand mere inches from some of the most famous racing cars in history and better still, meet their drivers.
High Performance Renault Hill-Runners
Renault is fielding a spectacular array of race and rally cars to attack the Goodwood hill, these cars spanning more than a century.
Here are the runners :
• 1902 Renault Type K
• 1926 Renault 40 CV Type NM des records
• 1975 Renault 17 Group 5
• 1984 Renault 5 Maxi Turbo
• 1979 Renault RS 10 Formula 1 – on static display
• 1983 Renault RE 40 Formula 1 – on static display
• 2005 Renault R 25 Formula 1 – on static display
1902 Renault Type K
The Type K brought Renault its first international racing victory in 1902. The company entered three cars in the Paris to Vienna race, although few thought they had much chance of winning against several far more powerful cars. But the Type K’s low weight was a real asset on the races hilly roads, bringing Marcel Renault victory at an impressive average speed of 38.8mph over 807 miles. The Type K will be tackling a hill once again over the weekend when it motors up the Goodwood House drive.
1926 Renault 40CV Type NM des records
This spectacular car – its long, deep bonnet occupies almost half its length – sat at the pinnacle of the Renault range in the 1920s and took part in many of the speed trials popular at the time. In 1926 the ultimate version of this 9.0 litre car was developed, complete with single seat, streamlined coupe bodywork, exposed wheels and a 14-strong crew trained in the art of refuelling it. It covered 50 miles at 118.1mph, and went on to achieve a 24-hour average of 107.9mph – big speeds for a production-based car of the day. You’ll be able get an impression of its drama when it thunders up the Goodwood hill.
1975 Renault 17 Groupe 5
Renault has a proud history of performance coupes, the handsomely styled front-wheel drive 15 and 17 carrying the torch during the 1970s. Renault will be airing its dramatic Groupe 5 Renault 17 racer at Goodwood. Competing in rallies from 1972 to 1975, the R17 was the first Renault model to win a round of the World Rally Championship in 1975.
A total of 14 official cars were prepared by the factory and this is the last and most successful of the run. This group 5 version included many aluminium components to reduce weight. Its 1.8-litre engine produced 185hp transmitted through front wheel drive. Weighing 820kg, its top speed was over 120mph.
1984 Renault R5 Maxi Turbo
By the mid ‘70s the sun had finally set on the Alpine A110’s glittering rally career, Renault’s rival Lancia dominating the scene with its mid-engined Stratos. Renault’s surprising answer to this Ferrari-powered supercar was an urban supermini, its hugely successful Five chosen as the unlikely basis for small, light and ferociously fast new mid-engined weapon. The idea was to move its engine from the front to the middle of the car to improve its traction and handling. The result was a rather strange looking Five, its rear wings distended by swollen wheel arches, its rear seats sacrificed to a box housing a highly tuned, turbocharged 1.4 litre engine of 162hp. The Rally Championship rules required that this weirdly appealing little car enter production, in the process creating one of Renault’s many legendary performance machines and a highly collectible car today. The Renault 5 Maxi Turbo scored its maiden win on the 1981 Monte Carlo rally, and remained a potent force until the all-wheel drive Group B cars arrived.
The Maxi Turbo’s extraordinary proportions, and power, can be seen in action over the Festival weekend driven by Jean Ragnotti who will, as in previous Festivals, without doubt, be entertaining the crowds !
1983 Renault RE40 Formula 1 car - static
The RE40 was Renault’s first Formula One car to use a carbonfibre tub, this lightweight material and a sizeable set of wings intended to counter the banning of ground-effect aerodynamics for the 1983 season. The RE40’s cause was further aided by Renault’s now long-running 1.5 litre turbo engine, which was by now running twin turbochargers to achieve a spectacular 880hp. Alain Prost was runner-up in the world championship in this car, scoring four wins from 14 races, three pole positions and three fastest laps.
2005 Renault R25 Formula 1 car - static
Fernando Alonso’s World Championship winning Renault R25 F1 car from 2005 takes pride of place amongst the Renault heritage cars in the F1 paddock. In that year, Alonso won seven Grand Prix with five second places. Its Renault 3.5-litre V10 produced over 800hp at an astonishing 15,500rpm.