Of all the automakers competing in various forms of motorsport, Renault arguably has one of the most robust factory racing programs.
But this latest competition machine isn’t being made in-house. It’s being made by Prodrive – one of the most prominent independent racing car constructors in the business.
When Subaru wanted to a rally team, it turned to Prodrive. Honda’s F1 team (now owned by Mercedes) was initially run by Prodrive. The Ferrari 550 GTS? Prodrive. Aston Martin‘s extensive GT racing program? Yep, Prodrive.
When BMW wanted to put Mini back in rallying, it contracted (you guessed it) Prodrive to build the car. The automaker ended up pulling the plug, and more recently Prodrive reworked it for the Global Rallycross Championship. Now the British consultancy is returning to the rallycross scene with the vehicle you see here. Only this time it’s on a bigger stage, and was commissioned by the driver, not the automaker.
That driver is Guerlain Chicherit, a former skiing champion who has since turned to off-road motorsports. You may remember the Frenchman’s epic backflip stunt in a rally-prepped Mini Countryman, but he’s also won the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and competed numerous times in the Dakar Rally.
Now he’s embarking on a full-time entry in the FIA World Rallycross Championship. He’ll be driving this new Renault Mégane RX in the top Supercars class at a few races later this season before (hopefully) undertaking the full calendar in 2018 – all under his own team dubbed GCK.
He’ll have some stiff competition to contend with, though, as Audi has increased its involvement with Mattias Ekstrom’s team, Petter Solberg will be keen to regain the championship, and a growing field of challengers aim to upset them all.