Renault Dealer Racing joined the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in 1993, with Tim Harvey and Alain Menu in a Renault 19 16S. The Renault Laguna promised more success and the pair switched to a new car developed by the Renault Sport rally department in 1994. The Laguna immediately began to show its potential and its yellow and blue livery was to become an iconic sight in BTCC for the following seasons.
TUNING IN TO WIN
In 1995, the Formula One magic of Williams was brought to the Renault Laguna for the new season. Externally, the car looked like a standard Laguna, in line with the rules of BTCC, but it was a very different beast under the hood. Sodemo Moteurs tuned the four-cylinder, 1,998 cc engine to produce 280hp and a top speed of 260 km/h. Alain Menu, 1994 BTCC runner-up, was joined by the 1991 champion Will Hoy to fully exploit the potential of the new Renault Laguna BTCC.
The Renault Laguna BTCC made a slow start but Menu eventually had a breakthrough race at Thruxton, taking pole position and fastest lap, before going on to win seven of the last nine races of the 1995 season. Hoy had a more mixed year but the Williams Renault team still finished as winners of the Constructor’s title, with a clear lead over all their rivals.
INTO THE RECORD BOOKS
However it was the 1997 season that was to put the Renault Laguna into the record books. Jason Plato joined Alain Menu to make up a team that won 14 of the 24 races in the year. Menu won 12, with the novice Plato winning the first three poles and then the last race of the season, a taste of what was to come from the future champion. Williams Renault won both the BTCC Constructor and Team titles in only their fourth year of competition.
When the Laguna ended its run in the BTCC in 1999, it had won four titles and 38 races. Its winning ways live on in virtual reality as an iconic model in the TOCA Touring Car Championship video game.
Renault Laguna BTCC
four-cylinder in-line, 1998 cc, 280 hp @ 8 500 rpm