Renault is planning to launch a Rally3 challenger by April 2023.
To date, only M-Sport has developed a contender for the recently introduced Rally3 formula which was designed to act as a stepping stone between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive categories and accelerate the phasing out of Group N vehicles.
There are currently front-wheel-drive Rally4 and Rally5 versions of the Clio in Renault’s rallying portfolio, plus a rear-wheel-drive Alpine A110 built to RGT specifications. The Rally3 will be Renault’s first four-wheel-drive offering of the modern era.
“To be ready as soon as possible is a big challenge,” Benoît Nogier, Renault’s customer racing director, told DirtFish.
“We are discovering a bit this new category. It will be the first time for Renault to have a four-wheel-drive car. We are working hard and we should have the first test in a few weeks.”
Though M-Sport has an exclusive contract to operate the Junior WRC category until 2024 with its Fiesta Rally3, Renault is hoping to see its new car compete at the top level as part of the overall WRC3 classification.
It will also be eligible to compete in the European Rally Championship, other continental competitions and national series.
“It has been very important when we took the decision to go with the Rally3. It’s nice to know that Rally3 will be part of the future in as good a championship as WRC3 is,” said Nogier.
“We cannot wait to see the comparison between WRC3 and the Junior because Ford will be with the Junior. So we will be able to compare the performance in the future between all the brands.
“The sport is interesting when we have many competitors. I hope there will be many brands in Rally3 in the future.”
Testing of Renault’s new Rally3 machine is expected to begin near the end of February. It is currently in discussions with multiple “experienced drivers” to lead its testing program, which unsurprisingly will take place in the marque’s home country, France.
“It’s a very usual plan for the testing. We will start to test on the gravel first and to see what is the limit when we start to destroy the car on the gravel. After, we go on the Tarmac.
“Right now there is still no plan to go on ice surfaces but we will see during the development. The first will start for sure on gravel and then after in Tarmac.
“In France we are lucky to have all those kinds of different surfaces available. So we’ll stay in France, gravel then Tarmac.”