Renault 5 Turbo to z pewnością jeden z najciekawszych samochodów rajdowych w historii. Na aukcji Retromobile 2014, 7 lutego w Paryżu, zlicytowany zostanie jeden z najlepszych egzemplarzy, jakie dotrwały do naszych czasów. To oryginalna, fantastycznie zachowana rajdówka zespołu fabrycznego, pierwsza, która pod wodzą wirtuoza Jean’a Ragnotti’ego ruszyła na podbój rajdowych tras. Jej historia jest w pełni znana i opisana poniżej przez Gillesa Valleriana. Szacowana cena: 280-320000 euro.
– The only existing Calberson Renault 5 Group 4
– Official factory car
– Fantastic original condition
– Ex Tour Auto – Ex Rallye Monte Carlo
History of the R5 Turbo
The Renault 5 Turbo was the brainchild of Jean Terramorsi, the vice-president of production at Renault in charge of small series. In 1977 he came up with a sporting evolution of the company’s star car: the little Renault R5. For this creation, it was necessary to do more than upgrade the power and handling as on the R5 Alpine. Terramorsi decided it was necessary to build a genuine rally car that would benefit from Renault’s pioneering technology – the turbocharger. Bernard Dudot, the engineer for Alpine at Dieppe, had already installed this device on a 1600 engine to boost the power of an ultra-light Group 5 berlinetta. The result was a car that was almost undriveable, but in the hands of a champion such as Thérier, it went on to win the Critérium des Cévennes, paving the way for the car that would take over in the hearts of Renault fans.
A turbocharged mid-positioned engine, reinforced chassis, special running gear, a body made from steel, fibreglass and aluminium, extravagant rear track in relation to the front: the R5 Turbo, presented to the press in 1978, wowed the crowds at the 79 Tour of Italy in the hands of Fréquelin who managed to give the Stratos and Porsche entries a run for their money before retiring.
The rest of the R5 Turbo story is glorious, with victories in top events such as the Monte Carlo Rally (1981), Tour de Corse (1982 and 1985), the Tour de France Auto (1984 and 1985), and the development for Group B with the Maxi 5 Turbo. The biggest names in French motorsport would take to the wheel of this splendid car : Jean Ragnotti, Jean Luc Thérier, Guy Fréquelin, Bruno Saby, Didier Auriol, Francois Chatriot… and even Alain Prost! The little Renault bomb has a well-earned place in the line-up of the all-time great rally cars, along with its glorious predecessor, the Alpine berlinette.
THE RENAULT 5 TURBO GROUP 4 factory “Calberson” chassis B000036
In 1979, the modest Renault Sport division, responsible for the R5 Turbo rally programme led by engineers François Bernard and Michel Têtu, only had the Group 5 prototype that had appeared on the Tour of Italy, the famous ” Black ” R5, assembled from specific Renault and Alpine parts.
Gérard Larousse and his team had to wait for 400 examples of the production series to be built for homologation in Group 4 that would allow the R5 Turbo to compete in major international competitions. This was done before the summer of 1980, they needed to build a new car that drew on lessons learnt testing the ” black ” prototype. And so the car presented here was born, bearing the chassis number B000036 and registered 126 TZ 91 on 8 September 1980. This was the first R5 Turbo to be homologated in Group 4, and as a racing car, its exceptionally well conserved condition is nothing short of a miracle ! But we’ll return to that…
B000036 was given the spectacular CALBERSON livery straight away. Calberson, the major transport and courier company, had forged links with Alpine and Renault by first sponsoring the A310 V6 French championship winning car with Guy Fréquelin, followed by the little “skateboards”, the R5 Alpines that shone on the 1978 Monte Carlo Rally driven by Fréquelin and Ragnotti, and finally the Alpine Renault A442 at Le Mans.
“Coco” Prié, the mechanic well-known for his time at Alpine during the successful 1973 world championship era, and who moved to Renault as head of the rally support team, remembers assembling this R5Turbo not at Viry Châtillon but at the F1 department at Antony, alongside Prost’s single seater. The 1400 turbocharged engine of this car was therefore prepared by the F1 workshop, and is the one and only R5T engine to have benefitted from this treatment, as the others were built first at Viry and later by the Bozian brothers near Lyon…
This engine is the same as that used in the ” Tour de Corse ” version that appeared in 1983, but slightly less powerful (around 260 bhp according to press reports at the time). The specific differences of note to a standard production R5T are:
– Chausson heat exchanger
– Large injection regulation system taken from a Porsche 928, with just four out of the eight outlets used, with a large air-filter on the left side
– Specific turbocharger on the right side of the engine compartment, without waste gate (used when the pressure is too high), which is situated directly on the exhaust manifold, particular to this engine
– Exhaust outlet on the right
– Large alternator mounted above the gearbox
– Dry sump with oil tank on the right side, specific cam casing with chain-driven oil pump.
– Close ratio gearbox, ZF limited slip diff at 40%
– Specific pedal box with double master cylinders as on the single-seaters
This engine set-up remained unchanged through to the “Tour de Corse” version, evolving to 320bhp. A giant technological advance took place with the “Maxi” version, with power increasing to 350 bhp and significantly more flexibility. There are also notable differences to the running gear, the brakes (4 piston calipers at the front, 2 piston calipers at the rear and special to group 4 discs), reinforced, adjustable lower rear wishbones, De Carbon shock absorbers, front axle modified with welded upper wishbones. The wheels are 15-inch magnesium minilites.
In contrast, this Group 4 R5 retains the original front track that was much narrower than the rear. This was corrected on later cars (group 4 and group B), which had 16-inch wheels on the last examples.
The first campaign for B000036 was the famous Tour de France Automobile in 1980, which took place at the end of September over a distance of 2700km. The car was given to factory driver Jean Ragnotti, with co-driver Jean Marc Andrié. The Ragnotti-R5T tandem caused great excitement and did not disappoint the spectators ! Andrié declared “the mechanics presented us with a magnificent car – the best-looking rally car I’ve ever seen”. It must be said that Coco Prié’s team worked through the night before the start to get the car ready. The rally unfurled in an atmosphere of excitement, marked by a scratch win for the R5 on the first special stage. This had involved ” Jeannot ” going backwards for 200m following a spin in the gravel at 120 km/h, looking through the rear window to try and see where he was going ! Darniche and his Stratos was one second behind… The R5T B000036 went on to win 6 of the following special stages. Têtu and Bernard’s car was the quickest on the asphalt, the Stratos appeared to age overnight.
Mechanical problems slowed Ragnotti’s march towards the podium. The gearbox was changed in Nîmes, in record time (Coco told us that the quickest time to change it had been recorded at 12mn !), then the exhaust manifold had to be changed in le Moulinon after the Renault driver had put 2’56” on Darniche, in the fog at Burzet…
Unfortunately, the R5T’s first outing didn’t end in victory. An off-road excursion in the Col de Perty lost them 5 minutes, and they were forced to retire six stages before the end with an ignition problem. However, the R5 Calberson had won over a lot of fans and made a big impression. The spectators knew that a victory wasn’t far away…
B000036 and Jean Ragnotti were eagerly anticipated at the next event: The Tour de Corse. This splendid trial, with special stages of over 100 km, attracted the biggest names: Andruet, Thérier, Darniche, Frequelin, Rohrl, Ragnotti, Saby, Mouton…
Jean Ragnotti was the clear favourite given the Tour Auto results. The team engineer Philippe Chasselut had worked to reduce the turbo’s response time and the R5 was the overall winner of the first four stages. A puncture on the following stage relegated them to 4th place, but they quickly regained the lead in front of Darniche and his Fiat 131 Abarth. The second section played into the Renault driver’s hands, thanks to the terrible weather. In Castagniccia, Ragnotti’s talent together with the R5T’s good handling in the wet, despite the power of the turbo, increased his lead. However, just before the Col Saint Roch, the alternator belt broke and the car stopped… it meant a retirement even though the event had effectively been won, and a huge disappointment for the team.
At Cévennes, Ragnotti took part in a R5T Group 3 car in Calberson colours, which was used by Saby in the following Monte Carlo round. In preparation for this event, in which the Régie campaigned a new car painted in new colours of yellow, white and black identical to the F1 colours. B000036 was used as a support car, to test the tyres in the snow driven by Jean Ragnotti. The car still made the cover of the 1980/81 edition of l’Année Echappement!
The car then returned to Renault Sport, to be used for testing by Jean Ragnotti with the well-known family of racing drivers, the Wambergues, to compare it against the new Audi Quattro. The Wambergues have a film of this testing session ! B00036 was then sold by Renault to an individual, who only made a few modifications to the car. It was subsequently bought by Jean Sage who then sold it at auction with… Hervé Poulain. The car was bought by the current owner, who since that time has only used the car in the Rallye du Var and more recently, the 2013 Tour de Corse Historique.
This Renault 5 Turbo is in exceptionally original condition for a car that has raced at this level. It is in the period Calberson livery, has retained its running gear, which can be checked against the substantial photo album from the Tour de France Auto and Tour de Corse (Renault Sport 4 piston calipers replaced the two rear pistons). Mechanically, the car remains strictly original, with its large and specific Tour de Corse type turbo. It still has its rare magnesium Minilite wheels, and the interior also retains a period feel, with the original carpets, and the rare onboard computer that caused the author of these lines to break out into a cold sweat, as co-driver on the 2013 Tour de Corse ! The only changes to its 1980 equipment are: the turbo gauge, a recent addition, the rear part of the roll-cage which has a larger diameter than the original one (ridiculous, it must be said), and new seats and harnesses that are VHC homologated.
A close look at period photos show that the smallest details down to the bonnet catches have been kept. This car created a sensation at the last Tour de Corse Historique, being highly original amongst so many recreations of period cars. It is certainly one of the most important R5 Turbo factory cars. Although not a race-winner, it is the one and only R5 group 4 car in Calberson colours (the two others were, a 127 TZ 91 in Group 3 which has disappeared and a Group 5 prototype destroyed by “Coco” himself), in stunning original condition.
B000036 is a spectacular, high-performance car, with a beauty that takes the breath away. It made its mark in rallies during the 1980s, setting new standards in major competitions, and took part in two of the most prestigious events for historic cars: The Tour de France Auto and the Tour de Corse. This is a truly exceptional car, eligible for all VHC events, coming with a Passport Technique National. A genuine competition car and not a modern replica.
The car has been signed by Jean Ragnotti on the bonnet, and its authenticity has been recognised by figures involved at the time including the famous “Coco” Prié, who was present on the Tour de Corse Historique!