High-revving, front-wheel-drive rally Kit Cars – usually French ones – have long lived in the hearts of rallying fans across the globe because of their giant-killing performances, beautiful engine notes and aggressive aesthetics.
For years the chance to see them in action has meant a deep dive into YouTube, but now Renault Sport is welcoming three of its most famous models from the era – Clio Maxi, Maxi Mégane and Clio S1600 – back onto the stages with the launch of the Philippe Bugalski Challenge.
Bugalski is perhaps best known for his long association with Citroën but he also played an important part in Renault’s rallying history, driving a Renault 5 Turbo in the 1980s before four strong seasons in the French, European and World rally championships as well as the FIA’s 2-Litre World Rally Cup with first a Clio Williams, Clio Maxi and then Maxi Mégane. The highlight was a dominant victory on the World Rally Cup-scoring 1996 Tour de Corse.
That was claimed in the Mégane which with its savage engine and seven-speed gearbox was one of the best cars of the revered Formula 2 generation. It won the European Rally Championship in 1999 as well as the World Rally Cup, and claimed the British Rally Championship title in both 1998 and ’99 in one of the series’ more competitive eras.
The Clio S1600 won the Junior WRC in 2003 and ’06 with Brice Tirabassi and Patrik Sandell at the wheel respectively, as well as the ERC crown in 2004 with Simon Jean-Joseph.
To commemorate the late Bugalski, and to bring out some crowd-pleasing machines to the French stages, the Philippe Buglaski Challenge has been launched as a standalone trophy within the French Tarmac Rally Championship, heading to six of the nine championship rounds.
All entrants will be welcomed into the Clio Trophy service park and will receive support from Renault Sport itself. Standard FIA points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers, and the champion will be offered a campaign in a national Clip Trophy series in 2022.
Renault Sport Racing customer racing director Benoît Nogier said: “We are very pleased to launch the Philippe Bugalski Challenge in tribute to Renault’s exploits in rallying as well as those of Philippe Bugalski who was well-known for his unique driving style and his ironclad good spirit.
“Renault has a rich competition history to which Clio Maxi, Maxi Mégane and Clio Super 1600 contributed significantly to for more than a decade.
“Even today, many drivers and owners still take great pleasure in competing with those cars that have left their mark on an entire generation. We now offer them a dedicated setting to bring these magnificent cars back to the most scenic roads in France.
“We hope that spectators will be able to join us as soon as possible in the service parks to come and take a close look at these three models alongside Clio Rally5 and Rally4.”