Renault Sport signs up for the FIA European Rally Championship
With Consani and Bonnefis
Renault Sport Technologies has officially entered the FIA European Rally Championship. Competing in the Megane Renaultsport N4 at all seven asphalt events on the 2013 calendar, the pairings formed by Robert Consani and Thibaut Gorczyca and Germain Bonnefis and Olivier Fournier will be gunning for the ERC Production Car Cup team and drivers titles.
From the Supercinq GT Turbo through to the inimitable Jean Ragnotti’s Clio, Renault Sport has always made its presence felt in Group N at asphalt events. Continuing that proud heritage, the Megane Renaultsport N4 has proved a force to be reckoned with since its launch in early 2011.
Backed by the competition’s promoter Eurosport Events, the FIA has breathed new life into the ERC, prompting Renault Sport Technologies to make its official entrance this year, with two Renault Megane Renaultsport N4s set to line up at all seven asphalt rounds on the calendar.
The winner of the 2012 IRC Production Cup drivers’ title in a Megane Renaultsport N4 and the main architect of Renault Sport’s IRC 2WD Cup triumph, Robert Consani has been given one of the two slots, with Thibaut Gorczyca sitting in as his new co-driver.
“I’m very proud to be representing Renault Sport,” said Robert Consani. “The objectives are pretty clear. We’re going for the Production team title and then the drivers’ championship. This season will be full of new experiences for me because I’m representing a manufacturer now. I’m with a new team and a new co-driver and I’ve got a talented team-mate in Germain. I can’t wait for the start of what’s going to be a hugely challenging season.”
Taking the wheel of the other Megane Renaultsport N4 is Germain Bonnefis, who will have Olivier Fournier alongside him. Reigning French Gravel Rally champions and former development series winners, the Aveyron duo have already had the chance to show what they can do in a Renault Clio Renaultsport R3.
“I am extremely honoured and proud to have been selected by Renault Sport Technologies to represent the make at international level,” said Germain Bonnefis. “We’re going to be competing in some legendary events like the Tour de Corse and the Sanremo, and we hope to put in some good performances. Winning the titles is a big ask but it’s within the reach of this great team.”
“Rally has been in Renault’s genes for more than 80 years, and we are proud and thrilled to present this ambitious project,” said Renault Sport Technologies Team Manager Eric Balondrade. “With the Megane Renaultsport N4 and the teams we’ve got in place, we’re aiming to add even more race wins and titles to the make’s long list of triumphs. We’ve achieved great things in the last few years thanks to a succession of good drivers, and Robert Consani is one of them. We’re also banking on Germain Bonnefis, who we’ve been following closely for a long time. Thanks to extensive media coverage, the European Rally Championship has stepped up a level this year and will make for an interesting alternative to WRC.”
Overseen by competition director Yann Paranthoen, the 2013 ERC programme will begin with two test sessions leading up to the opening event in the Canary Islands.