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Renault Sport: SuperClio may not beat the ‘Ring

RS boss Patrice Ratti wants the Nürburgring record back, but RS16 may be too slow

“It’s fun,” says Renault Sport boss Patrice Ratti, when asked about Nürburgring record attempts. “There’s a noticeable lift in coverage when we’ve been there before, and it’s a great way to motivate our staff, too.”

Renault has previous form in lapping the Nordschleife quickly. Three generations of fast Megane - namely the R26.R, 265 Trophy and 275 Trophy R – have all at one time held the front-wheel-drive lap record, the last of those trio 23 seconds quicker than the first.

But recently both Honda and Volkswagen have surpassed the Trophy R’s 7:54 lap time. The lighter, harder, 271bhp Clio RS16 - Renault’s self-proclaimed SuperClio - would seem like the car to get the trophy back on the French mantelpiece, no?

“Maybe. But now that the record is with 310 horsepower [via the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S’s 7:49] I’m not sure we’ll be quick enough. The Trophy R was still quicker in the corners, but there are long straights at the Nürburgring, where the extra horsepower counts.”

Perhaps a job for the next Megane RS, then. That’s a car that will arrive in 2018, likely with manual and paddleshift gearbox options, though retaining the same raw philosophy the current car is known for.

The RS16, meanwhile, is a car whose transition from concept to production isn’t yet certain. “We’ve still not decided,” Ratti told us, citing the financial sums as well as other stumbling blocks. “It’s working it onto the Dieppe production line alongside the other Clios and the new Alpine, and getting the body panels made by small-scale suppliers.”

It’s a car with one high-profile fan already, though, according to Ratti. “When Kevin Magnussen drove the show car at Monaco, he got out and said ‘if you make a limited edition, I want one!’”

Want to know what a stripped-out, race-bred Clio is like in the hands of mere mortals without a day job in Formula 1? And with no contractual need to talk up Renaults?

Come back to TopGear.com on Monday 11 July at 10am BST, when our review of the Renault Clio RS16 will be live…

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