Renault Clio Cup. Back to school

22 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Renault Clio Cup. Back to school

Renault Clio

Cup. to school

I’ll be perfectly an invitation to drive a Renault at the Dubai Autodrome at first fill me with excitement: a Renault hatchback; how good it be? Words are swiftly eaten when I find out the hot hatch I be driving is the lightweight Cup car, a derivation that has been run in the one-make Clio Cup by Renault since 2001 and the UAE Clio Cup 2011.

While at first it appears we’re a little to this particular party, it has been announced – ahead of the UAE Clio Cup that kicks off in – that Renault ’s diminutive hot will join the established seaters, Audi TTs and Audi R8 as part of the Autodrome’s drive programmes. The new addition allows racers – for the reasonable price of – the opportunity to hone their skills at a comparatively base and is another tentative step developing a grass roots base in the region. Today, here to see just how accurate claim is.

Before jumping the wheel (and after a of surprisingly strong coffees in one of the conference suites), I have to be a briefing by circuit instructor The first thing to remember, he me, is that the Cup is no road car. The throttle, gears and suspension all been setup for track There’s a roll cage, a and rear spoiler, a six-speed gearbox, a clutch, and no ABS.

It is not a car in which to prat around, and be given appropriate respect if I’d to stay out of the wall. I ponder, as I’m the debrief on track etiquette, if my earlier indifference was not only but unwise.

Downstairs in one of the Autodrome I’m introduced to the Renault I’ll be for a few laps of the Autodrome’s 2.46km Circuit. Unlike the newly fourth generation turbocharged Cup to make its racing debut in year’s Clio Eurocup), our generation test model a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated that kicks out 205bhp and ft of torque. That may not seem much but bear in mind the Cup weighs only 1060kg, and is likely to shift like a rabbit.

I don’t have too time to consider my charge since I’m soon being a helmet and a very fetching balaclava before being to step into the Sparco seat. This is slightly said than done, in order to do so I have to scramble the roll cage support covering the doorway.

Fortunately, the seat does not move up or it can move backwards on its runners, just enough room for me to in with fewer people expected sniggering. One of whom is Rami Azzam who has made appearances in a MINI JCW and a Yaris. and who is also riding with me today.

As an Autodrome -shirted gentleman from nowhere to buckle my racing harness, I take a at the equipment in front of me. The readout the steering wheel tells me the rev range, water temperature, indicator, track temperature and oil readings. To my right is a box comprising switches and buttons to fire the into life.

And aside the Matter bolted roll that’s it. This is about as out as you can get without removing the doors.

A Rami slides into the next to me as my belts are pulled enough to ensure both temporarily pop out of their sockets. the cars will all have fitted when the circuit’s new experience program makes its in October, today Rami give me directions on-track hand signals: a closed means ‘stop’, a wave ‘constant throttle’, and two fingers straight forward means it’. With that, flicks a switch that ‘start’, the four-cylinder fires life, and we’re soon out of the garage.

The first few laps are at a steady rather than pace, partly to get me acquainted the car and partly to get the slick tyres up to temperature (semi-slicks will be in October, but the compounds are still treated in Japan). Both and James have warned me offline, where sand and has accumulated, is incredibly slippery.

So too are the red and white kerbs on each which have been designed to destabilise cars over them in an effort to drivers within the circuit I heed their warnings, I’m keen not to have my first Cup experience end in either a spin or the

With a couple of sighter in the bag, Rami gives me the to open the taps at the top of the main By the time I throw out the anchor at the end, the Clio is topping Again, it’s not the fastest of machines, but the noise and the vibration the wheels trick me into that I’m going almost that.

A red marker cone signalling where I should and change down (doing so the corner will ruin the ’s balance and more than cause me to spin). Mounted on the side of the steering column is the gearlever against which I to push quite hard to the next gear into remembering not to ride the clutch and let braking take at least of the pressure off the Brembos.

The changes themselves are almost despite my being tentative the lever at first for fear of it. But this is a Sadev system, to handle even the most driving style and endurance distances to boot. As the adrenaline I’m soon hammering the lever

Ferocity though is not what I’m for with the brakes. Since is no ABS, stamping on the pedal cause the front-wheel drive hot to snap away from me, in a spin, some severely tyres and an extended period in the I’ve been told low to medium pressure gets the results and though it takes a to get right, I eventually find a balance.

Through the sweeping hand turn one, hand signals tell me to the throttle constant to the apex by a yellow cone) before a two point tells me to nail it as the opens out. We’re fourth gear as the corner out, but not for long as I’m soon the box back down into for the sharp left turn

Braking early and scrubbing the off as a result allows me to get the front of the turned in for the apex and a tidier for the turn three right-hander. My gets the better of me on occasion and a couple of times I carry too speed into the corner. The pushes the front end wide and the rear end light, all the weight now the front axle.

Not only do I miss the apex, but also ruins my line turn three, the car again wide and knocking a marker out of position as a tyre dips off the It’s a small mistake but in a situation could prove

It’s a complex balance, one immensely by the steering. Through the – a right-left-right chicane that up the hill through turns six and seven – the steering is pinpoint. a sizeable weight through the and I do feel that I am muscling the but I also know exactly the front wheels are pointing.

the Clio’s short wheelbase, the is superb with neither nor understeer making their felt. It’s particularly through the long sweeping eight where, remembering my with Nissan GT Academy Salman Al Khater. I try to look the upcoming corner to the next one to get my right.

After 6/7 laps, gives me the thumbs up and a signal to the car down. It’s a signal I’m to ignore, but better sense and I drop the speed as we cruise to pitlane. I’ve been to make sure that the is back in first by the time we up at the pit garage since the dogbox will not change gear if it is

I doubt the mechanics will be chuffed if I absentmindedly leave the car in

Back in the garage, I’m clambering out of the with a shirt now more than cotton, again to Rami’s amusement. He seems though with my progress as he my hand and claims, “you did man!” I’m pleased but at the same frustrated, replaying in my head the mistakes I made: the apexes I the gear-changes I fluffed (including one moment when I shifted the in completely the opposite direction).

doubt the bug has bitten. The new Clio Cup experience may not be the fastest of driving but that’s not what it aims to be. Far it. From one morning’s drive learnt throttle, gear and control, racing lines and a lot more than if I’d simply blasting a GT down the main at 200kph-plus.

And all in a Renault Clio.

next time I’m offered a I won’t be so quick to dismiss it.

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