Renault completes final stage of Rally3 development

The car will officially be unveiled in January before an expected debut in the springtime


The Renault Clio Rally3 has completed its final development test ahead of FIA homologation in April 2023.

The new car – which joins M-Sport Poland’s Fiesta in the Rally3 category – has done 4500km [2796 miles] worth of testing in France and Spain; 2500km on asphalt and 2000km on gravel.

Several drivers have led the development, with this year’s Italian Rally champion Andrea Crugnola joining Jean-Baptiste Franceschi and Jean-Sébastien Vigion behind the wheel, the latter doing the bulk of the driving.

The Clio Rally3 will officially be unveiled on January 15 at the Pas de la Casa Circuit in Andorra before being available for competition in the spring.

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It is the first four-wheel-drive rally car Renault has ever developed and put into production.

Yann Paranthoën, chief engineer of Renault Customer Racing, told DirtFish: “We started the design of the car in September 2021, but of course it was a difficult period to get some materials, to get aluminum, to get steel.

“We started testing in the south of France on gravel at the end of May and ended last week in Spain.”

That first test was a reliability test on very rough gravel as Renault wanted to test the Clio Rally3’s durability.

“We wanted to, not destroy but improve the reliability so we wanted to have a lot of stress on the car during the first test,” Paranthoën said.

“So, for sure we had some problems and some cracks on some parts, some failures on driveshafts, some failures on gearbox but not a lot so it was not so bad, they were basically just teething issues.

“Our main work was to improve the sump guard and all the gravel protection to improve the car because we were not used to have four-wheel-drive, so the stress and the application was a little bit different than front-wheel-drive so we had to improve the protection on gravel surface.”

Paranthoën added that the version of the Clio that was driven last week is “a lot different” to the one driven in May.

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“The main thing is the rear wing,” he pointed out. “You can see we had the new rear wing during the last three test sessions and of course the engine changed a lot between the first one and the last one, a lot of mapping.

“We tested at least 250 different maps between the first test and the last test so there’s a big difference in terms of mapping and therefore in terms of engine performance.

“And of course we improve a lot the dampers, a lot of setup, but let’s say that the first car, the first test, was not so bad.

“So, for sure we improved the car but the reliability and the performance was not so bad at the beginning, so the work was well done before the test and we tried to improve for that.”

The rear wing is a standout feature on the Clio Rally3 as it was developed by the Alpine Formula 1 team in Enstone.

“In March we asked them to design and calculate the rear wing. For sure they are very focused on the Formula 1 season so we cannot ask a lot of things, but they did it very well with a lot of discussion between us and the Formula 1 team design office.

“It was very interesting to work with them. They were very focused on it, so it was a pleasure to work with them. Their input had a big impact on the car which is super positive and surprised us in a good way.”

DirtFish understands that, in total, 31 drivers have had a shot behind the wheel of the Clio Rally3 with 16 of those expressing an intention to buy the car, and a further 14 strongly interested.

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“We feel that the car is well designed, and the performance will be good, so it’s just a feeling but yes we think that this regulation and the Clio will be a best seller for this category and customers will be happy,” said Paranthoën.

“Our goal is to have satisfied customers and we think that with this car it will be a very good car for customers with performance, with reliability and the running costs will be quite low compared to Rally2 car. So, the ratio of performance and cost will be good.”

Some teams, including French outfits Chazel and Fun Meca Sport, have already placed orders with Paranthoën admitting “if we can build more than 30 cars next year it will be a good year”.

In the World Rally Championship, the Clio Rally3 won’t be eligible for Junior WRC, which is exclusively for the Ford Fiesta Rally3, but can compete in the WRC3 class.

Renault also currently offers a Rally4 and Rally5 version of the Clio.

Words:Luke Barry