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  Renault Laguna ST
 

  Article Image gallery (15) WTCE 99-04 Specifications User Comments (1)  
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Country of origin:France
Produced from:1995 - 1999
Numbers built:20 (Four each season)
Designed by:Williams Touring Car Engineering
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 02, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFollowing a promising debut season with the Laguna in the British Touring Car Championship, Renault called in the help of Formula 1 partner Williams to further streamline the operation ahead of the 1995 season. As with the Grand Prix effort, the engines were built in France while the rest of the car was developed and built at the Williams factory. The new-for-1995 Laguna was built to the relatively lenient Super Touring regulations introduced at the start of the 1993 season.

The Williams engineers started with a bare Laguna shell, which was fitted with production derived McPherson struts suspension at the front and trailing arms with torsion bars at the rear. Mounted as far back and down in the chassis was the straight four engine. Based on a Renault production engine, it was prepared for racing by specialists Sodemo. It produced around 285 bhp at the start of 1995 and ultimately well over 300 bhp by the end of the decade. The four-cylinder was mated to a Williams gearbox, which used Hewland internals.

Tasked to drive for the Williams Renault Dealer Racing team were Alain Menu and Will Hoy. Menu debuted with a second place finish in the first heat of the opening round and went on to score his first win in the first heat of the Thruxton round. The Swiss driver won six more races and Hoy a further three. Finishing second and third in the drivers championship, Menu and Hoy did amass enough points for Renault to end the year as manufacturers champion.

Faced with particularly strong opposition from Frank Biela in his all-wheel drive Audi, the Lagunas struggled the following season but Menu still ended the year second. Applying all the lessons learned, the Williams Renault team absolutely dominated the 1997 season. Menu won 12 of the 24 heats and his new team-mate Jason Plato won a further two. Needless to say, Menu was that year's British Touring Car Champion and Renault added a second manufacturers trophy to their cabinet.

In one what was arguably one of the most competitive seasons in BTCC history, which saw most of Britain's top teams like Prodrive (Honda) and TWR (Volvo) compete, Menu won just three races and Plato scored just a single victory, which left Renault third in the standings. For 1999, Menu switched to Ford and was replaced by Jean Christophe Bouillon. It was the least successful season of the Williams / Renault partnership with Plato scoring but a single victory.

At the end of the season, the Williams Renault partnership was disbanded. Racing the ever evolving Laguna, they scored two manufacturers and one drivers championship over a span five seasons.

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