Something For The Weekend – July 2019

Here at Car Articles, we love our hot hatches.  There’s something especially good about a motor that is able to ferry your mates around, have space for kit in the back but also offer plenty of thrills.  In this case, the Renault Megane RS Trophy-R meets all of those criteria and more.  This latest car achieved the fastest ever front-wheel drive production car lap of the Nurburgring at 7 mins 40.1 seconds!

The Renault press release indicates that the outgoing road car is as close to a race/track car as you can reasonably get . One of the most notable immediate differences over the standard (and already fast) car is the dramatic reduction in weight, with 130kg saved over standard Megane R.S. Trophy.

Only 500 models of this car will be made, of which 30 right hand drive examples will be sent to the UK.  There’s always a possible grey import right!?  Given how impressive the lap time is, we’ve included a segment below from an interview with the driver that took the amazing record breaking Nurburgring lap.  We are sure you would all love an opportunity to thrash one of these hugely quick hot hatches in real life!

THE DRIVER: LAURENT HURGON

At the wheel for the successful record attempt was Laurent Hurgon, the official test driver for the New MÉGANE R.S. TROPHY-R. Having already broken the record on two previous occasions for Renault, he knows each metre of the circuit like the back of his hand. He is passionate about what he does, contributing in this ultimate version of the Mégane with the same dedicated attention to detail as he would for a racing car. After each test session there was a debriefing session, just as in motorsport, when adjustments would be made and new solutions found. Each change moving  the project closer to ultimate performance.

Q&A WITH LAURENT HURGON

Can you tell us about the record-breaking lap?

Laurent Hurgon: ‘Conditions were not ideal, because the weather was cold and damp, but we found the right launch window for take-off. The Nordschleife is an extremely difficult track. It has lots of very fast sections, combined with several very different types of bends. Although I know the circuit very well, it still requires total concentration. But the car was ready, the whole team was behind me, and I was highly motivated to go for a record-breaking time.’

How do you approach a car like New MÉGANE R.S. TROPHY-R?

L.H.: ‘It’s a car that has to be seen like a competition car. In the same way as a test session, you have to drive a few laps to adjust the car to the racetrack, to the damp weather, your driving style and your preferences. It is vital to start by getting the tyres up to the right temperature, and to try out some load transfers to feel how the car reacts. Customers will be able to adjust the driveability and attitude of the car, the shock absorbers and the tyre pressures, in the same way as on a racing car.’

What does it feel like to drive the New MÉGANE R.S. TROPHY-R?

L.H.: ‘The front axle plays an important role, the more you push it the more effective it is, thanks to its negative cambering. It enables you to drive round bends at speeds that are completely off the map in this segment. That means you have to set the rear axle properly to control oversteer. The steering is precise as a scalpel, with its very direct reduction ratio. The brakes are ultra-powerful: carbon brings consistency and bite, so you can brake later and manage gradual braking more effectively. Although the aerodynamics push the car down onto the track, you still have be ultra-precise in your driving. It’s a demanding car that needs you to be humble if you want to learn to control it, but which will be exciting for customers, because there will always be room for improvement!’

A few final words?

L.H.: ‘I feel incredibly lucky to be able to contribute to developing such a car: demanding, limitless, delivering the best performance ever from a Renault production car. It’s both exciting and extremely rewarding. For the team, the common objective was unusually intense, especially as the company was keeping an eye on all our technical decisions. This is everything I love about Renault Sport, and this car is the crystallisation of this spirit and experience!’

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