After the British Grand Prix, the Renault World Series is the most popular motor sport event in the UK, and it is not hard to see why. For a start, it is free to attend, thus making it far more accessible for those who want a family day out but cannot justify the ticket price for other events. Although the focus is around a program of races, there is also plenty to see and do, with everything from displays of new and old cars, to a range of simulators, dodgem car rides, bouncy castles and the like, so even those who are not so interested in the action on the track could have an interesting and varied day.HISTOIRE et COLLECTION
Renault have a large collection of historically significant cars, which are not on general public display, but which can be seen at events like this, when they are brought out from storage.
1978 A442There were several racing cars, ranging from Formula 1, through Formula 3.5 and 2.0 to something rather more diminutiveFrom the world of rallying were four cars, ranging from the early 1950s 4CV, through the Dauphine, Alpine A110 to the R5.This was the “fuller fat” R5 TurboThere were a couple of recent examples of the Clio and Megane in competition garb A number of former race cars were parked up by the Owners’ Club cars, so that they could take to the track for a lunchtime cavalcade.CURRENT CARS
A wide variety of current cars, vans and trucks were on display. Some of the cars appeared in something rather novel liveries, which would definitely be to some people’s taste whilst alienating others.
There were a variety of the latest range on show, most were either too dull or too crowded to point the cameras at. This Laguna Coupe ‘Monaco GP’ did look good, howeverWe couldn’t quite work out what was going on with these cars. We were told that they were second hand and some had sold stickers in the windows. They all had some decals of questionable value and taste, and wheels and bodykits on them that didn’t look like something that Renault would have offered.There were a couple of the latest Gordini badged cars, with both a Twingo and Clio on show. These looked like disappointing, and appeared costly. Milking a once famous brand like this is sad, but perhaps an inevitability in the twentyfirst century OWNERS CLUB CARS
As in 2009, the day was simply too packed to accommodate a trip around the circuit for the Renault Owners, which may be one reason why there were rather fewer cars in this area of the event than previously.
The two rarest vehicles were owned by the same gent, who had brought along his treasured R30TS and am R20 TX. The former will appear in the November 2010 issue of Classic and Sports Car, he told us, in a feature looking at late 1970s executive cars. This car has now done over 320,000 miles, most of them since he bought it in 1987. It has had hand controls fitted, as the owner suffered from an operation that went wrong some years ago, and he has had to undertake a certain amount of repair work to keep it going. It transpired that there are fewer than 10 of these cars in the UK, and even around the world, a very small number have survived, which is a little surprising as more than 750,000 were originally made.
Also a rare sighting in the UK is the A310 version of the Alpine, yet there were three of them at this event, which was as many as the more commonly seen A110 and GTA/A610 cars.There were plenty of the more recent “classics”, with plenty of Clio V6, all generations of the front wheel drive Clios and Meganes.Among the older cars, there were several of the SuperCinq models on show, and a lone first generation R5, in Gordini formThere were a couple of the mid-engined R5 Turbo 2 cars, the older brother to the Clio V6This R8 was one of the older Renaults at the event.There was but a single lone Sport Spider and a late model R21 Turbo, in the rare Quadra 4×4 form.A very rare sight these days, an R9An R12 Gordini is also a rare sighting in the UK, as the car was never officially sold here.In previous years, the Avantime owners have turned out in force, but this year could only muster 4 cars. Have they lost interest and sold their cars, most of which are now 8 years old, or where they all simply elsewhere?PADDOCK and PITS
There did not appear to be open access to the Pits, though a lengthy queue had built up by mid-morning, with people hoping to get access during the lunch break. The Paddock was readily accessible, though, and was the sort of hive of activity that you would expect, and also contained all manner of cars from rental vehicles to the more unusual parked up.ON THE TRACK
This is the real raison d’etre of the event, of course, and there was almost constant activity from 9am til 6pm, so plenty to see. races, There were several different races, for Formula 3,5, Renault and 1.6, as well as the Meganes and Clios and then a number of parade and demo laps of some of the historic cars, Jean Ragnotti having very carefully controller fun in the R5 Maxi Turbo and a number of laps of the blisteringly quick R30 Formula 1 car. We took advantage of the fact that spectators could go more or less anywhere. to test out a number of vantage positions. Most of them will challenge the photographer as the fencing gets in the way of many a shot, though between us, we did have some success.
We did come across this Caparo T1, into which a passenger was strapped before she was more or less completely smothered by the rather large driver and they then headed out onto the track. And Finally…….
There were a number of activities in which the attendees could participate. Queues for all of these were long, even at 8:30 in the morning. However, a particularly persistent Skyhook Junior did figure out that in fact there was no queue as such for the Formula 1 Tyre Change Challenge, as they were simply selecting volunteers from out of the crowd. Whilst the professionals may have little to fear from any upstart competition, TheMotor’s team of two did a far better, and faster job than the other tyre changers we saw!
This was a good day out. The event seems not to have lost its popularity, with crowds of over 150,000 people in attendance over the course of the weekend. Worth looking out for the 2011 schedule.