Renault enters Targa fray with Megane RS Cup
- 12th April 2012, 9:26am
Up against the might of the factory Mazda team and four-time Australian Rally Champion, Simon Evans, James will compete in his 12th Targa Tasmania and is hoping to upset the pre-event favourites.
Together with long-time co-driver, Tim Kulhanek, James will drive a Megane RS Cup in the two-wheel drive Showroom category – far cry from his regular Targa car, a rear-wheel drive Porsche 944.
“My Porsche is now 22 years old and I was looking for another challenge,” James said.
“I became aware that Renault Australia were keen to get involved in the two-wheel drive Showroom category, and approached them to gauge their interest.”
A deal was struck, whereby Renault assisted James in purchasing the car and providing a spares package. They have also been instrumental in gathering technical information from their European motorsport division in getting the new car set up.
“They’ve provided great assistance and advice in getting the suspension sorted and tuning the engine,” James adds.
“Whilst the car is under development, we expect a strong showing against the might of Mazda, BMW and the Ford Focus who will make up a strong field.
“Of course we are treating this year as a development year and it’s hard to say how we’ll go, but testing has been very impressive so far.
“Targa is a real marathon of an event, and after 600 kilometres of stages we’ll know a lot more about the car.”
James hasn’t driven a front-wheel drive car in competition since he competed in a Ford Laser racing series in the 1980s, and getting used to the Renault after his rear-wheel drive Porsche may take some time.
“I’m not pretending that we’re going to go out and challenge Simon Evans and the factory Mazda team, but by the end of the event I hope that we’ve set some competitive stage times and caused a few surprises.”
The Renault has a neutral 50/50 front-rear weight distribution, and weighs in at around 1300 kilograms, with James excited about the potential of the car.
“I haven’t driven it in anger yet, but we’ve got a test session planned before the event, and I’m really looking forward to getting it on to the stages and seeing what it’s capable of,” he said.
The new Renault looks brilliant and is a mouth-watering addition to the Targa Tasmania entry list. Spectators will be eagerly awaiting the sight and sound of the French rocket on the Targa stages.
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