The production Renault 21 featured engines that ranged from a 1.4L 8V producing a top speed of 165 km/h to a 2.2L 8V that maxed out at 192 km/h. The Superproduction saw an all-new 2L turbo engine with four in-line cylinders producing 430 hp that could reach up to 290 km/h. Other innovations included a blow-off valve derived from F1 and a 2.35m-long carbon fibre driveshaft taken from the Espace Quadra.
The engineering teams at R.S. wanted the Renault 21 Superproduction to be the absolute best and meticulous work was done in wind tunnel testing on the car’s aerodynamics in order to find the most effective solutions. A transverse spoiler standing proud of the boot lid was employed to help reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency.
THE PERFECT MATCH
The new car needed a new driver and the main man for the job was none other than Jean Ragnotti, one of France’s favourite racing drivers. Ragnotti was coming off the back of three World Rally Championship race victories in 1981, 1982 and 1985. The pairing of ‘Jeannot’ and the Renault 21 Superproduction soon proved to be a match made in heaven.
The car was launched in October 1987, claiming its first podium finish in March 1988, just over five months later. Over the course of the season, six of the 10 calendar races were won, with victories shared between Ragnotti and stablemate Jean-Louis Bousquet. Those victories saw Ragnotti claim the French Championship drivers’ title in the Superproduction class.
ONE YEAR ON
New rules for the 1989 Championship that limited boost pressure to 2 bars were unfavourable for the Renault 21’s turbo engine. As a result, the team made a number of modifications to the car, resulting in an entirely different model to the previous year’s, with a longitudinal engine configuration closer to that of the original production car. Despite a handicap of 128 kg and transmission issues, the car took 11 poles from 14 races and came second in the championship.