On June 23rd 2008, the Mégane R.S. R26.R broke the Nürburgring lap record for a front-wheel drive production car. Ten years later, Jean-Pascal Dauce, Project Manager for the historic eight minute and seventeen second record, talked to us about the radically-designed car that became a legend…
Unveiled in London, the Mégane R.S. R26.R was launched in a specific context: "When Mégane 2 R.S. was released, Renault Sport was something of an outsider in the hot hatch market," recalled Jean-Pascal Dauce. "With the release of the Trophy, F1 Team and R26 limited editions, the sportier the cars, the more acclaim we were given… which is where we got the idea for a version that was even more radical!"
"We had listed all of the ingredients required to make a successful sports car, and began by reducing the weight to 115kg, less than the F1 Team version," he continued. "Senior management and all the departments supported us, not forgetting the contribution of the experts at the Technocentre who introduced polycarbonate windows and a carbon fibre bonnet, both firsts at Renault."
A cut above in its class, Mégane R.S. R26.R was named Sports Model of the Year and set a new lap record for a FWD production car at the Nürburgring, driven by Vincent Bayle.
"It wasn’t our ultimate goal, but it was certainly the icing on the cake," he commented. "We went to the Nürburgring regularly, where the specialist manufacturers were setting new lap records. We decided to go for it and our success gave us even more motivation and a real sense of pride."
With the lap record, the limited production run of 450 vehicles had a lasting impact on the direction taken by Renault Sport.
"The Mégane R26.R marked a turning point for the R.S. range", concluded Jean-Pascal Dauce. "It gave us the confidence to be bold and convinced us that we could produce models that were a level above the R.S. The car has become a genuine collector’s item and has boosted the credibility of the Trophy and Trophy-R versions that have been released since."