After a degree in management, Yann Monpas, 28, began working at his parents’ DIY shop. But his true passion comes from his maternal grandfather, who was employed at the Grand Garage Renault at Place de Clichy, in Paris.
This was the garage of famous Renault driver Jean Rédélé, who became an acquaintance of Yann’s grandfather. He also had the chance to work with Amédé Gordini, and to meet Jean Ragnotti. “Whenever we went on holiday,” says Yann, “I got my hands on the whole range of Renault magazines in the back seat. I knew all of the models by heart. My grandfather saw the birth of the first Alpine, and he worked on many cars that were dedicated to racing.” No wonder Yann’s first word after “daddy” and “mummy” was “car”.
The minute he passed his driving test, Yann went to buy his first Clio 2, soon followed by a Clio 3, before acquiring his first R.S. on his 22nd birthday. “It was a Clio 3 R.S. in Monaco Blue, which I sold to my godfather to be able to buy a Mégane 3 R.S. Trophy 265 – in Liquid Yellow, obviously!” That’s not the only Renault in the family: for everyday journeys, Yann drives a more practical Kangoo, while his partner has chosen her own R.S., a red Clio 3. A 1983 R5 TX, which belonged to his grandmother, also quietly awaits to be made road-ready in Yann’s back garden.
“I have been swearing by Renault Sport since I was a child,” says Yann. “Like many car enthusiasts I admire other brands, but Renault Sport will always be my first love. And watching R.S. on the track, now’s that’s really something…”
Although he loves the whole Renault range, it’s racing that’s closest to Yann’s heart. “Sports cars are such an achievement. There is so much research and development that goes into these vehicles, and for us, as users, that translates into pure joy. For me, a Renault Sport has the simplicity of an everyday car, with the know-how of a French racing division that is celebrated around the world, and that creates real driving pleasure.”
Yann applies this on the track himself, with a group of friends who share his passion for racing and photography and call themselves “Autobasterds”. “We travel to the Nürburgring once a year, a bit like a pilgrimage,” says Yann. “I go to Le Mans with my Mégane, and with the Clio I race on smaller tracks like La Ferté-Gaucher, Les Ecuyers, Clastres, Lurcy-Lévis, Val de Vienne…”
Yann’s favourite memory from these races is when, at Nordschleife, his eyes met the astonished look of a Porsche driver looking in his rearview mirror, just as Yann was catching up with him at full speed. “I love to see people, young and old, turn around and look at my Mégane,” he says.