September 29, 2023

Frank Williams as soon as mentioned: “Subsequent to System One, the BTCC is a very powerful collection on the planet exterior America.” He was proper.

With over one million folks tuning in on a Sunday to look at their favorite drivers battle it out within the British Touring Automobile Championship, few different stay sporting applications got here shut.

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To have Williams run Renault’s works group confirmed simply how severe the French automaker was about successful. Williams had loads of driver and constructor championships to their identify in System 1 at this level, and the extent of development they dropped at touring automotive racing – at each a technical and business degree – pressured the remainder of the BTCC subject to play catch up. Previous to this, Renault had little success with the R19 and first 12 months of the Laguna, so Williams’ involvement was desperately wanted.

Having two ex-BTCC Willams-Renault Lagunas on the current Manufacturers Hatch Tremendous Touring Energy occasion supplied an alternative to not solely try the automobiles up shut and soak up all the main points, but additionally see what it could have been like to look at them racing in interval towards their rivals.

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Whereas the rules had some limitations, Williams took the rulebook and developed a automotive proper on the restrict. First showing in 1994, the brand new Lagunas have been fast out the field, however fragile. Nonetheless, Williams-Renault managed second general within the championship.

Over the following few years, Renault have been persistently within the prime half of the sphere, with the Lagunas excelling on quick, flowing circuits. Success lastly got here knocking in 1997 when Williams-Renault was so dominant they gained 14 of 24 races and had the championship all wrapped up with six rounds to go. Alain Menu was chargeable for 12 of these victories, whereas the opposite two went to Jason Plato, who was only a rookie on the time.

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A glance beneath the automotive reveals simply how totally different the suspension is from unique. The pick-up factors and geometry have been radically altered to permit for scalpel-sharp dealing with.

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With the automotive up on air jacks, you may see simply how little suspension journey they’ve.

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Given the tucked nature of the wheels, steering lock was additionally minimal. This meant that when the automobiles went previous a reasonably shallow level, the drivers have been simply alongside for the experience.

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Sodemo Moteurs, a provider of Renault race motors for varied motorsport disciplines, had the dry-sump-equipped 1,998cc engines making making effectively in extra of 300hp. That energy discovered its option to the 19-inch magnesium OZ Racing wheels via a Hewland sequential gearbox.

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A predominant sponsor change to Nescafé resulted in a completely new color scheme for Renault’s 1998 season. By this level the competitors was way more fierce, leading to what many individuals regard because the highpoint of the Tremendous Tourer period. Sadly for Renault, success was tougher to come back by and so they solely ended up successful 4 rounds.

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Come 1999, Renault solely managed one spherical win, main to an entire withdrawal on the finish of the season. Nissan and Volvo did the identical. The writing was on the wall, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Tremendous Tourer period was resigned to the historical past books. By 2001, the TOCA ruleset modified dramatically, bringing an abrupt finish to what many now look again on because the golden period of touring automotive racing.

Chaydon Ford
Instagram: chaycore