Renault World Series at Silverstone – July 2009


This is the third year when Renault have mounted an excellent weekend of motor-sport activities in the UK, and paid for it all themselves. The Renault World Series event, which took place at Silverstone, as in 2008, is now the second best attended motor sport event in the UK after the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and it’s not hard to see why, as there is so much to see and do there.

New Cars

Clearly, as the event is paid for from a marketing budget, you might reasonably expect to find a comprehensive display of new Renault cars and vans. And so there was. New this year was the opportunity to sign up for a short, accompanied test drive, but by the time I went into the marquee to see what was available, almost all the slots were taken. I did not bother, but I did take the time to look at the latest models, as Renault have recently launched plenty of new product.

In the “family car” area, pride of place went to the new Scenic and Grand Scenic, with several examples of each on display. Although I had seen these at Geneva, it was good to have another look. The interior quality has advanced massively and now is probably the equal of anything in its class. Whether you will like the central dash display, and the stupid electronic handbrake may be more debatable.

Plenty of the facelifted Clios were available for inspection, too. I was relieved to note that the interior of the Estate car I looked at looked much better than the Fisher Price style plastics of the one I saw at this event last year.

The new Kangoo – well, not so new as it launched at Frankfurt 2007 – has finally just gone on sale in the UK and there were a couple of these to inspect. Like the Berlingo, it is half a size bigger than its predecessor, to make room for a smaller model underneath it in the range (the Kangoo BeBop in Renault’s case).

Several of the latest model Megane and Twingo hatchbacks were on show. The Laguna was also there, but with a rather low profile.

Despite rumours of its early demise, there was a Koleos, too. It was cunningly placed on a bit of “diaroma” which meant you could not get in it. Wonder why?

There were some vans, too.

In the separate area reserved for Renault Sport models, there was plenty of new stuff to see.

Three Renault “World Series” Limited edition cars were making their debut.

In the “design” part of the exhibit, the Renault Wind staged another appearance. It’s a shame that there appears to be little likelihood that this car will ever be built.

Histoire et Collection

A bigger display this year than previously, and most of the vehicles were different from previous years, too.

The first ever Renault, the 1898 Voiturette Model A was here again, and was proving popular when it was wheeled out into the sunshine and (carefully selected) children were invited to sit in it and have their photo taken.

A 1909 BZ

A 1929 Vivastella

The rare “Decapotable” model of the 4CV

A Dauphine 1093. This 1961 car was a special more powerful version of the familiar family car and simply kept its code name for production (the regular Dauphine was the1090)

A Floride – styling product from Frua, this car quickly became popular among many famous personalities of the day, notably Brigitte Bardot.

The 1959 Estafette – Renault’s answer to the Citroen H Van, and their first front drive vehicle

A rather special decoration scheme on this 1983 Renault R4GTL

A 1975 Renault R16TX. This car was absolutely immaculate – I suspect it had been plucked from the factory straight into this collection, though the info board did not say this. Once a familiar sight on the roads of Britain and France, this car is a real rarity now. I did note that the “collection” driver was struggling with the column mounted gear shift as it was being manoeuvred (more on that later)

a 1984 Renault R5TX – fitted with automatic transmission and power steering, this was a very upmarket version of a cheap hatch that sold in its millions.

Around the other side of the display were some more sporting vehicles

Rene Arnoux’ Formula 1 car from the 1980s

Renault R5 Maxi-Turbo (far more on this later!)

Renault Alpine A110

Paris-Dakar winning Renault R20 – in the early days of this race, most of the competitors were much more overtly based on road cars than has been the case for the last 15 – 20 years.

Renault R8 Gordini

1935 Renault Nervasport – a large V8 elegance, it is hard to imagine this car competing in the Monte Carlo Rally!

1906 Racing Renault

Owners Club Cars

I already knew that the Renault Owners Club cars were not going to be able to go around the circuit this year, so they were confined to a static display, which was consequently rather more central than they had been last year. There were a lot of cars in the display area, and most of them were being enthusiastically cleaned for a large part of the morning.

The majority of cars were recent, and were exactly what you would expect: lots of Clios, of all generations and Meganes.

There were several R26R cars.

A small showing from the Avantime Owners. A couple of the most commonly seen blue coloured cars arrived after I took the pictures.

Sadly, most of the more unusual stuff was highly unoriginal.

There were a few R19s, including a convertible, a hatch and a couple of Chamades. All bar this one had been altered presumably to reflect the taste of their owner.

I did like this first generation R5 GTL, and so did the judges who awarded it “runner up” for best pre 1979 exhibit.

This R12 had starred in Life on Mars, and would have looked better if it was not surrounded with boards and other rubbish preventing a good view of the car, as these are now rare.

Rarer still are the R20/R30 cars and there was a late model of each, both owned by the same person. The R30, which had received a rather unfortunate side colour, had done 304,000 miles, and it passed its latest MoT test just this week, he proudly told me. The R20TX was rather more original looking, so it met my camera!

There was a rather gawdy R17 that I have seen at these events before – again, shame you never see an original one any more!

Most of the Alpines were ones we had seen at Prescott, and were the more modified ones! There were a couple of Spiders, though.

On the track

There was a full program of events, all day. Qualifying and racing and parade laps for a wide variety of classes meant that the track was rarely quiet for more than the time it took to change activity..

As always at this event, you can roam wherever you want, but I took most of my pics from the Luffield B grandstand, as that is one of the better places for those who do not have media credentials, of equipment with a far bigger zoom than my camera.

These were from the Megane Triphy race – the latest cars, loosely based on the new model, now have 360 bhp, and some brave drivers, who occasionally get it wrong, as we saw!

I did not get any pics of the 3.5 litre cars, but I did get plenty from the 2 litre cars, where all the cars in the class are identical. Many of today’s F1 drivers came to notice in this class a few years ago.

As was to be expected, the Clio Cup drivers seemed fearless and still to need to hone their skills a little! Here are some of them waiting to go out to play

We were treated to a few demo laps of the Renault F1 car, driven (his first time in an F1 car) by Spanish driver, Marcos Martinez, who just happened to win the 3.5 litre race. He locked the brakes up once, and nearly lost it totally………

Whereas Jean Ragnotti, driving the Maxi Turbo got up to all sorts of antics just to please the crowd, and doubtless himself!

The Alpine A110 was not much slower than the Maxi Turbo, as the drivers proved by letting the latter pass it and see how long it took to catch up!

In among this, the Histoire et Collection cars came out to parade, too. What a splendid sight

So, an excellent day. It started warm, and almost cloudless, and although there were a couple of occasions when ominous dark clouds appeared, it did not rain. There will be many burnt people tonight – why do so many of our population wander round all day in the sun with no shirt on? and the younger ones seemed to wear their shorts like they wear the trousers, half way round their knees! The event organisers were doing their very best to keep the venue tidy, with vast numbers of litter patrols – though this did not seem to extend to emptying the overflowing huge bins! – but the Great British Public did not help matters!

Just one thing was missing: some of the rest of the Forum! Much to surprise, I was the only Forummer there, unless others were who never answered the posting in the Events Diary. Everyone else missed a great (and free) day out!

2009-07-05 08:16:51

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