A year rich in success for Renault Sport Technologies

From the tenth season of the World Series by Renault to the record Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R to the launch of the Clio R3T and the advent of the Formula E with the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, Renault Sport had a 2014 year rich in success. And now an overview with Renault Sport Technologies President, Patrice Ratti.

Can you define Renault Sport Technologies in just a few words ?

“Renault Sport Technologies designs, develops, and sells competition vehicles and sports cars from the Renault Group under one roof. This creates a strong link between motor racing and production cars thanks to an effective and innovative transfer of technology. We also add our motor racing expertise and passion to a comprehensive range of cars and sporting events”.

The World Series by Renault has past the ten year mark. Is it a source of pride for Renault ?

“We take great pride in maintaining an event that has been so successful for so many years. When we look at the results, we can only be overjoyed by the efficiency of the World Series by Renault. We are extremely happy to still have so many spectators thanks to our affiliates and our partners such as Elf and Michelin and to work with the very professional teams and to have had excellent drivers compete in our championships, all known for their qualities, before, for some, moving to the pinnacle of the sport, which is F1”

What is your assessment after ten seasons ?

“We are pleased that after 10 years, all of our partners have been able to put their differences aside for the good of the World Series by Renault. Despite a difficult financial context, the teams were able to carry on thanks to the reflections of the working group. The decisions that were made, including the extension of the single-seater’s life span, will help in 2015.

In addition, our original concept of a 100% Renault meeting allows the public to approach motor racing. This contributes to our brand image. Renault has a unique position in motor racing, thanks to its formulas that are essential in a driver’s career. The prestigious history of Formula Renault, which is heading towards its 45th year of existence, is the perfect example when it comes to quality versus price. In 2015 we will introduce the latest generation of the Formula Renault 2.0s and Clio Cups in China.”

Again this year, a driver from the Formula Renault 3.5 Series will join Formula 1. Is this satisfying for Renault Sport ?

“For the fourth consecutive year, one of our drivers from the Formula Renault 3.5 Series will head directly to Formula 1. After Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, Jules Bianchi and Kevin Magnussen, now it is Carlos Sainz. Once again this demonstrates the excellence of our driver development academy that best prepares the drivers.”

How important a role do the promotors play in the effectiveness of the pyramid put in place by Renault Sport ?

“We organize our championships in the framework of the World Series by Renault, but we also rely heavily on the promoters in Europe and around the world who look after the different Renault single-make categories : Formula Renault 1.6, Formula Renault 2.0 and the Clio Cup. Thanks to them, over 100 drivers can access their passion and try to full-fill their dreams.”

The 2014 season also the saw the arrival of the Renault Sport R.S. 01, this new high-performance race car. A project that is very near and dear to your teams…

“In less than a year, the Renault Sport R.S. 01 project saw the light of day and is now a reality. This car is the result of an exemplary cooperation between the Renault designers, the Renault Sport engineers and our partners. Everything accelerated with the presentation in Moscow, where the welcome from the public and professionals surpassed all our expectations. Thanks to the work of our men and all of our technical partners, who were able to begin the development on well-known circuits with a varied and complimentary group of drivers. We accumulated 1000s of kilometers to offer a competitive and reliable product that has a bright future in the World Series by Renault !”

The year will also be remembered for the introduction of a new electric single-seater championship, the FIA Formula E Championship, where Renault is playing a major role. Are you satisfied with this project ?

“Our presence in Formula E was obvious. We like challenges and we like being pioneers. It is a unique experience and very innovative, which presents an all new image to motor racing. It is completely in step with the development of the 100% Renault Z.E. electric range. And makes the project that more interesting. The Spark-Renault SRT_01E is a partnership effort between the biggest names in motorsport. In getting in at the beginning, our teams saw the project come to life in Beijing with a lot of exaltation and passion. The first races have demonstrated the reliability and safety aspects of the cars, but also the interest of the formula with suspense-filled races.”

Renault is a technical partner of the championship, but also the primary partner of the e.dams-Renault team, why ?

“We wanted to show our commitment to this new championship and benefit from the complementary media exposure. And the association with the team of Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot seemed obvious. In addition to being our ambassador, Alain Prost shares a long history with Renault. The Dams team has an outstanding track record, winning the titles the past two years in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. This partnership allows Renault Sport to occupy an important place in the future of the discipline.”

You are also involved in rallying ; you have put in place the Challenge Renault Sport for the 2014 season, via the French Rally Cup, What is your assessment ?

“We propose one of the most complete rally competition-customer ranges on the market. It was natural to offer a wide-range of vehicles to the teams entered in the French Rally Cup with the Twingo R.S. R1, Twingo R.S. R2, Clio R.S. R3 and Mégane R.S. N4. We attracted new competitors in a formula where cost control is the catchword, without neglecting performance bonuses. We organized events during these rallies with the support of local dealerships to approach our customers with very positive feedback.”

Eight years after the Clio R.S. R3, Renault Sport Technologies presented the Clio R3T. What is the importance of this project ?

“This new Rally Competition-Customer model was developed for the teams and the privateer drivers, in order to offer unmatched services on gravel and tarmac at controlled costs. In already winning several times, it quickly became one of the most reliable and fastest R3s on the market and its commercial success underlines its qualities. Thus, in addition to our technical support, we will launch the Clio R3T European Trophy in 2015 so that the crews can benefit from an unprecedented sporting management. The winners will win an exceptional prize : a Renault Sport backed Clio R3T for six rounds of the 2016 WRC3 Championship !”

In addition to competition, Renault Sport Technologies is also acclaimed for its track days for enthusiasts. What is the recipe for success ?

“We organize the ‘Journées Passion Renault Sport’ for our customers and motor racing enthusiasts in order to offer them privileged moments on well-known circuits, under the supervision of experienced instructors. The recipe is simple : we listen to our customers, their desires and their queries, and we look at what we can do to make motor racing as accessible as possible. More enthusiasts than ever before took part in the JPRS and we thank them and hope to see them again in 2015.”

There is also some other great news with the record #Under8 of the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy R …

“The Renault Sport teams like to get involved in exciting projects. They were determined to offer the sportiest Mégane a third lap record on the famous Nordschleife. With a time of 7:54.36 in its first official outing, the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R wrote its name in the performance annals of the Nürburgring. This new record demonstrates, once again, the savoir-faire of our men in the conception of exceptional sports cars, accessible to all enthusiasts.

It’s no surprise the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R was elected sports car of the year by France’s Echappement magazine. It was also mentioned in several automobile periodicals as was its ‘little sister’, the Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy as one of the best sports cars of the year. It is with great pride to see our work acclaimed by the industry specialist as well as the public at large.”

The R.S. range is sold around the world, what are the commercial results for 2014 ?

"We still don‘t have the sales numbers for 2014, but the early trends show that the R.S. range is more international than ever before. 22% of our models that are badged Renault Sport, GT or GT Line, are sold outside of Europe. We’ve also made a remarkable return to Mexico where the Clio R.S. has had a spectacular start. For this vehicle the primary markets are Japan and Australia, just behind France. It is nearly the same situation with the Mégane R.S., demonstrating that our products shine well beyond our borders !”

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