For 95 per cent of us, rallying is, first and foremost, a sport. It’s something we do on weekends to fill in the hours between Friday afternoon and Monday morning – a time when many others are chasing balls, kicking balls, hitting balls or even throwing balls.
So when Victorian, Richard Fung, decided it was time to get back behind the wheel of a rally car, he wanted something that was not only fun to drive, but was also reliable and didn’t require him to give up every night of the week to work on it.
After rallying a Toyota Corolla on gravel in the 1990s, Richard decided that his second foray into the sport would be on tarmac, and so he set about searching for a suitable vehicle.
Renault Clio RS or Corolla ? Gravel or tarmac? Richard Fung has a difficult choice. Photos: Peter Whitten
Initially the plan was to build a car from the ground up, but when a smart looking 2009 Renault Clio RS caught his eye, it wasn’t long before a deal was done and the car was making its way to his workshop.
The Clio in question is a limited edition ‘Clio RenaultSport F1 Team R27’, a special model created to commemorate Renault’s Formula 1 World Championship wins (Constructors’ and Drivers’) in 2005 and 2006, using the R27 chassis.
Only 40 examples were imported into Australia, making the car even more desirable.
Part of the ‘limited edition’ package was a rear aero diffuser that channels airflow around the car to increase down force of the rear end, thereby reducing lift. As well as being an effective addition, it looks great too.
Richard Fung and his Renault Clio RS rally car.
Before the car landed in Richard’s workshop, it started life in Western Australia, where it was built into a tarmac-spec rally car by LF Performance in Bentley.
Aside from the required safety equipment, the car is pretty much standard, something that really appealed to its new owner.
“It’s such a well-built and reliable car that it really only requires basic maintenance and a clean before each event,” Richard says.
“Provided you don’t hit anything, there’s not much that can go wrong, and it’s a cheap way to go rallying.”
In the time that he’s owned the Renault, Richard and co-driver, Graham McGrath, have contested Targa Hellyer Gorge and several rounds of the Australian Tarmac Championship in Victoria, never failing to finish.
“It really is fun to drive,” he adds. “With a two-litre, normally aspirated engine the car is never going to be a rocketship against the four-wheel drive, turbo cars in tarmac rallying, but if we can continually improve our times and have fun, that’s what it’s all about.”
Power from the 2.0L motor is driven through a six-speed gearbox and a Quaife ATB helical-gear LSD, while fully-adjustable coil over suspension helps to keep the Clio sitting nicely through the corners.
The standard 17” alloy wheels are fitted with Dunlop semi-slicks, while massive Brembo 330mm discs on the front, and standard 240mm Renault brakes on the rear, slow the car down.
It all culminates in a tidy package that is the envy of many other competitors – and it doesn’t hurt that the car looks fantastic as well.
But while tarmac rallying and the Clio are Richard’s passion for now, his 1987 Corolla sits forlornly on jack stands just a few metres away, begging to be let loose on the gravel once more.
“I haven’t done an event in the Corolla since 1999, and it hasn’t even been driven for many years,” he admits.
“It’s got a new close ratio gearbox in it which has never been used, so I guess I’ll need to find some time to get it going and take it for a run.”
In the meantime, however, his focus is on the Clio and getting it ready for his next event.
2009 Renault Clio RS 197 R27Engine: Standard 2.0L Naturally Aspirated, tuned ECU
Transmission: 6-speed manual, standard clutch
Differential: Quaife ATB helical-gear LSD
Suspension: fully adjustable KW Variant 3 coilovers
Steering: Standard electric
Brakes: (F) Brembo 4-pots with 330mm full floating 2-piece slotted disc (R) standard Renault 240mm - Pagid R29 pads
Wheels/Tyres: Standard 17" alloy / 215/45R17 Dunlop semi-slicks
Who built the car and where: Built in 2010 by LF Performance, Bentley WA
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