Renault Manufacturer Profile & Rally History

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Renault Home Country: France France

You can read in the according makes stories that Ford, Peugeot, BMC and Renault are clearly the teams with the longest WRC heritage. Rallying was a big story in France and started out in that country, so there is no big surprise Renault – the brand created in 1899 by the brothers Louis and Marcel Renault – was into it from very early on, just after the start of the company. In fact Marcel Renault was an enthusiastic rally driver himself, however turning into a tragic figure. Marcel Renault won the 1902 Rallye Paris-Vienna, but then lost his life crashing on the 1903 Rallye Paris-Madrid. But Renault gave us a lot of unique, sophisticated and imaginative designs. They also brought names into the WRC that to the day are resounding, such as Alpine and Gordini.

Although already the Renault 4CV was a successful rally car, their first big story circled around Renault’s somewhat strange car concept of the 1960s and the name Gordini. Although Renault’s rallying programs were always largely in house, they relied on outside help several times and Amadée Gordini was an engine tuner whose name became synonymous with Renault and rallying through his involvement in the engine part of according projects. Pair this with the fact that nearly all Renault road cars of the 1960s (basically all except the R4, as the FWD R6, R12 & R16 came in the late 1960s) were little, light saloons with RWD and rear engine. These cars may look like a joke today, but being light, small, RWD and rear engined, they were not only unique but in fact good for the rallying of the 1960s. For making small RWD rear engined cars, Renault was one of the first to make such cars, a trend followed by Simca Rallye, NSU TT, Skoda 130 and others. After all this layout is not dissimilar to what Porsche still uses today on the 911. This is basically what the Renault Dauphine Gordini and the R8 Gordini were all about and these are still resounding, classic names even today.

You find more on the Renault Dauphine & R8 under the "make" _ancient_ in our database. For their successes, it is amazing how this strange concept of car worked in those days. Especially the Tour de Corse with its bumpy, twisty roads seemed perfect for these cars. Dauphine & R8 together won this event no less than 8 times in 11 years: 1956, 58, 59, 60, 62, 64, 65 & 66! In 1956 the winning Dauphine was with a lady driver, in 1958 Dauphines occupied the top4 places, in 1962 it was a Dauphine 1-2-3, in 1965 the R8 Gordini wins ahead of a works Alpine A110...! In 1967 Piot/Roure, R8 Gordini still win the San Remo. The last R8 Gordini victory on ERC level appears to be a private car on the Rally Poland 1968. As a works car we still find the R8 alongside the A110 until Monte Carlo 1970.

The next shocker then came with the Alpine A110. This was not as many believe a purpose built rally car but a road sports car using Renault’s philosophy and technology. We note an Alpine A106 on the Tour de Corse 1960 and an A110 on the Tour de Corse 1964, meaning the A108 must have been a short lived project. But also the A110 story started off slowly. In Tour de Corse 1964 the A110 1300 only managed 7th place. One year later the Alpines managed 2nd and 4th on this event, which would have been more impressive had they not been beaten by an R8! By 1968 the A110 1440 arrived, in 1970 the 1600 and in 1972 the 1800. Although the A110 1800 technology was more based on the R16 back to front, the Alpine A110 was like i.e. the R8 a rear engine RWD layout and that was stuck into a go-kart style tubular subframe and decorated with an ultra light plastic body shell. Now if the R8 Gordini was already a good performer, you can see how the A110 recepy had to become absolutely stunning. After all, by 1973 the A110 was a well developped and proven car! Well, by then the A110 had nearly 10 years under its belt, but development, especially on the engine side (increasing displacement as above), never stood still. Further, in contrary to its compatriots Peugeot and Citroen, Renault did not take their rear engined cars to African or marathon rallies and instead jumped at the newly created WRC. Now mix all this with the star line up Renault had for 1973, including names as Ove Andersson, Bernard Darniche, Jean-Claude Andruet, Jean-Luc Thérier and Jean-Pierre Nicolas and you get an idea how crushing their successes where in early WRC. In fact Renault-Alpine became the first WRChampion ever!

Although not bad programs, it nearly seems not worth mentioning that Renault as well had an R12 Gordini and an R17 Gordini. Note the difference in attitude between R17 and R8: the R8 was preferred over its posher, more powerful but heavier version called R10, but with the R17 this was prefered over its more basic, less powerful but lighter sister the R15. The R17 Gordini actually turned a WRC event winner soon after its debut, but its rally history was somehow overshadowed by the presence of the stunning Alpine A110. The R12 Gordini being a FWD front engined bigger saloon car could never really match the success story of the R8 Gordini and became more famous in rallying for 15 years in the WRC thanks to the efforts of Renault’s Argentinian factory. It was as well the Argentinians who turned the R18 into a rally car.

After this Alpine A110 star show Renault was the make that made the rally World give respect to little FWD hatchbacks. The R5 was not the first hot hatch, but it was the first hot hatch that gave the established RWD cars a serious scare in the WRCircus. Interestingly the R5 broke with one tradition to revive another. Although the Renault daughter brand Alpine had nothing to do with this project, Renault’s hot hatch rally car was called the R5 Alpine, not the R5 Gordini as most would have expected.

And Renault wouldn’t be Renault if they didn’t have more innovative surprises for us. Saab may have been the first make to rally turbo cars and in fact win rallies with turbos, but it was Renault to turn turbos into a fashion. And they did that in style: The R5 Turbo was no more the cuddly hot hatch the R5 Alpine was, it was a monster with a fat, fire spitting bum, a mid engine, rear wheel drive and a turbo engine of only 1.4 litre displacement that would produce a mindblowing 255BHP! This car was launched even before the Audi Quattro and such Renault could be regarded as the brand leading us into the age of rally super cars. Turbo became a really big thing for Renault as in group A the R11 Turbo was only FWD but powerful and competitive and as well Renault somehow got away with creating a 1.4 FWD R5 turbo in group N that was in power and handling so brilliant that to the day it is the only group N car to win a WRC event outright (although this was in the Bandama Rally).

And all this was not the last shocker, Renault was a major force persuading the FIA into creating an F2 kit car category and although Renault’s cars may not have been the most successful F2 cars, the Renault Clio Maxi was the very first car created to these rules. It is a shame somehow that since the Alpine days Renault never was really involved with top category cars in the WRChampionship for a full season, even the group 4/B R5 Turbo was more made with French rallying in mind rather than a WRC program. But if you look for a rally car manufacturer working into extremes, innovation and imagination, you simply cannot ignore Renault!

COLOURS & TYRES:

Renault seemed to never settle for a distinct house colour. The dark blue metallic was the typical Alpine colour while as well Dauphine, R8, R12 & R17 were in a lighter, non-metallic blue with white stripes, which seemed to be a Gordini thing. On the R12 & R17 we sometimes saw a characterful combination of that Gordini blue with white stripes and red roof. Then Renault’s colour seemed more to change into yellow with black & white, some R5 Alpine in yellow only. While R5 Turbos appearing in blue can be excused with Philips sponsorship, it seems confusing that already a number of Alpine A110 were seen competing in Renault yellow with black & white. One interesting, or for fans maybe confusing game happened in the first groupA year with the R11 Turbo: Renault had a contract with Philips for French events only, meaning in WRC the cars appeared in Philips blue on Monte Carlo and Tour de Corse, but on all other WRC events in the Renault yellow-white-black. The Clio however became synonymous for a silver colour scheme thanks to sponsorship of credit company Diac. In later times a combination of yellow and blue was used, but all in all the yellow with black & white as used on the R5 Turbo & R11 Turbo seems to be closest to Renault’s identity.

Renault used Michelin tyres throughout.

REGISTRATIONS:

At first Renault seems confusing with their reg numbers. This is mainly because on Renault works cars area codes as 74, 75, 76, 84, 91 & 92 can be found. However it all becomes rather obvious soon. Most side details are explained if you look at our general registration guide for France’s registration system. Renault did never play any games with reg numbers, private plates or anything, so we can solely concentrate on the area codes. And out of the selection above, you pick 76 & 91, the rest simply is not important! The Alpine factory is based in 76200 Dieppe, at the North Sea coast. It lays in the nature of a firm like Alpine that they would run their motorsports program largely by themselves. Therefore all works Alpines in WRC events carry a "76" plate. You also find some later Renault models as some R12 Gordini and R5 Alpine being registered on the Alpine base in Dieppe. The Renault Sport headquarters, as well as a big Renault factory, however are situated in 91177 Viry-Chatillon, explaining the "91" number regularly appearing on Renault works cars throughout the 1980s. Though these are clearly the main ones. I can’t come up why that is, only it is a fact that Renault works cars before the 1970s were Paris “75” registered, and that even goes for early Alpines! For some even more mystery reason the works R17 and one R12 were on “92” plates, but only them! In 1994 Renault started operating their rallying through satelite teams. Simon Racing and Automeca to be exact. Simon Racing was already in charge of Alain Oreille's group N World title and the only outright victory at WRC level for a group N car to date. Automeca became most famous for collecting British Rally Championship titles with the Mégane. These 2 satelite teams are easy to identify: Simon Racing is based in Avignon and would display “84” numbers, Automeca is from the Mont Blanc region, showing “74”. The "38" registered cars of Bruno Saby and "75" of Francois Chatriot were no works cars. So it stays, for proper works Renaults, you are looking for 76 (Alpine) & 91 (Renault Sport).

Renault Rally Cars

Model Class
Renault Renault Clio (1)  Group A
Renault Renault Clio (1)  Group N
Renault Renault Clio (1)  Formula 2
Renault Renault Clio (1)  Group N
Renault Renault Clio (1)  Group A
Renault Renault Clio (2)  Super 1600
Renault Renault Clio (2)  Group N
Renault Renault Clio (3)  Group A
Renault Renault Mégane (1)  Formula 2
Renault Renault Mégane (3)  Group N
Renault Renault R11  Group A
Renault Renault R12  Group 2
Renault Renault R17  Group 2
Renault Renault R18  Group A
Renault Renault R21  Group N
Renault Renault R5  Group 2
Renault Renault R5  Group N
Renault Renault R5 Turbo  Group 4
Renault Renault R5 Turbo  Group B

Rally Honour Roll

Year Class Place Manufacturer Events
2013 IRC Super 2000 7th. Renault (60pts) 12

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2012 IRC Super 2000 5th. Renault (126pts) 13

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1994 WRC Group A 6th. Renault (17pts) 10

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1993 WRC Group A 9th. Renault (8pts) 13

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1992 WRC Group A 8th. Renault (9pts) 14

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1991 WRC Group A 9th. Renault (4pts) 14

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1990 WRC Group A 7th. Renault (24pts) 13

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1989 WRC Group A 6th. Renault (40pts) 13

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1988 WRC Group A 6th. Renault (32pts) 13

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1987 WRC Group A 3rd. Renault (71pts) 13

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1986 WRC Group B 7th. Renault (14pts) 13

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1985 WRC Group B 6th. Renault (38pts) 12

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1984 WRC Group B 5th. Renault (55pts) 12

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1983 WRC Open 5th. Renault (27pts) 12

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1982 WRC Open 6th. Renault (34pts) 12

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1979 WRC Open 7th. Renault (41pts) 12

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1978 WRC Open 9th. Renault (38pts) 11

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1977 WRC Open 10th. Renault (28pts) 11

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1976 WRC Open 7th. Renault (33pts) 10

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1975 WRC Open 2nd. Renault (62pts) 10

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1974 WRC Open 4th. Renault (41pts) 8

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1973 WRC Open 1st. Renault (147pts) 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar