French motorsport legend Jean Ragnotti is now starring in the Renault Classic Show on the World Series by Renault circuit. An electrifying presence at the wheel of his Maxi 5 Turbo, the crowd-pleasing Ragnotti thrills the fans wherever he goes, earning well-deserved ovations from the stands. Now approaching his 69th birthday, Jeannot, as he is popularly known, agreed to share his most cherished World Series by Renault memories with us.
Who are the best fans on the WSR circuit?
“Spanish fans are very passionate but I have a little preference for Hungary. The stands are always packed and the atmosphere is great. The spectators always respond to what’s happening on the track during races and demonstrations.”
What is your favourite WSR track?
“It’s tough for me to choose. Obviously I really love Le Castellet and the Nürburgring is also a lovely track. This season’s final race will be held at Jerez, where I’m really looking forward to going back because it’s been a long, long time since I’ve driven there. Then there’s the fact that the atmosphere in the south of Spain is always that little bit warmer. I’ve always really liked the Hungaroring too. It’s probably my favourite out of all of them. The weather’s usually good and there are always a lot of spectators.”
What’s been your most unusual WSR trip so far?
“The trip to Moscow in June. After an hour and a half, the plane just said: “Well, the aircon’s not working properly so I’m going to turn around.” It was all a bit strange. It’s the first time that’s happened to us at the World Series by Renault.”
Which WSR driver do you most identify yourself with?
“There have been an awful lot of excellent drivers who’ve competed in World Series by Renault, and many of them have gone on to Formula 1. I like Daniel Ricciardo. He’s always got a smile on his face and he proved he was a good driver. As for pure performance, I’d also go for Sebastian Vettel, and I was pretty friendly with Jean-Eric Vergne. I liked all three of them, but if had to choose someone I identify with, it would have to be Ricciardo because I’m a little bit like him. I love having a laugh and joking about all the funny things life throws up.”
Is there a WSR race that stands out more than any other for you?
“None in particular. You only ever see good races at every meeting, both in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 3.5 Series. There’s usually a lot going on in them.”
This is the tenth season of World Series by Renault. Tell us something you were up to ten years ago.
“I could mention the urban roadshows I was doing with Renault F1. We did some in Moscow, doing big skids on the corner of Red Square. It was really good.”
And tell us something you’ll be doing in ten years’ time.
“I’ll be nearly 80 in ten years. My dream would be to carry on driving, though I’m not so sure I’ll be doing donuts at 150 to 200 kmh.”
What memories stand out for you from these ten seasons of WSR?
“I have very good memories of every year. What makes the World Series by Renault special is the atmosphere and the contact with the fans, the drivers and the teams. The spectators can approach the drivers and shake hands with them. If there’s one thing that really stands out from these ten seasons, it would be that contact with the fans. I really like that.”