French rally legend and Renault brand ambassador Jean Ragnotti celebrated his 70th birthday last weekend, at the 23rd Autobrocante Festival in Lohéac, in Brittany. On the programme was a rally featuring more than 70 Renault 5 Turbos, autograph-signing sessions and a host of other events that took as their theme the passions of this famous figure in Renault’s motorsport history. Some 14,000 visitors joined in the festivities at the event, which you can relive with our photo gallery.
Even at 70, Jean Ragnotti finds it hard to keep away from racetracks. A regular participant at classic events such as the Le Mans Classic and the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique and in demo drives in vintage rally cars, he invariably has his hands on a steering wheel. Last weekend was no exception, with the fabled Frenchman taking to the Lohéac track on various occasions in a Renault 5 Maxi Turbo.
“You could say Renault and I have a bit of a love affair going on. Celebrating my 70th birthday with Renault was a no-brainer and its cars have been an ever-present in my life,” said Ragnotti. “I started driving when I was six, in the family car, a Juvaquatre. My first car was a Renault 8 Gordini. I was 18 and I saved up for a few months and went straight to the factory to pick it up. After that I drove, among others, a Renault 12 Gordini, an Alpine A110, an A310, a Renault-Alpine A442 Turbo, a Renault 21 Turbo 4X4, a Renault 5 Alpine and a Turbo too, all the way through to the Group A Renault Clio in my last championship, at the age of 50, in 1996. Since retiring from competition I’ve stayed loyal to Renault. There’s real mutual appreciation between us. They even named a special series they launched in 2002 after me ! I’m still driving for them, in the “historique” class, and I’ve got no intention of giving up. I love test driving the new models, such as the New Mégane GT, which I took on its first public outing at the last WSR meeting at Le Mans. I like the way it handles on the road, and I’m also impressed by the latest update of the Renault range. The cars look good and their performance is good too. Renault are all set for success.”