Published on : December 11th 2017
December 11th 2017
Jean Ragnotti, known as “Jeannot” is one of French people’s favourite rallyand circuit racing drivers. His career and long list of wins, such as his victory in the world rally championship in the Tour de Corse in 1982, are intimately connected with Renault.
« Friday 7 May 1982, 3.43 PM – “Rain tyres, yes”, Jean-Marc Andrié, my co-driver, repeats into the radio transmitter, in a monotonous voice so as not to disturb my driving. He is asking the technical team to get the tyres ready.
The Tour de Corse, dubbed the rally of 10,000 bends, covers three days of racing along 1,600 kilometres of roads with 1,200 kilometres of time trials. This landscape of hairpin bends includes no straight longer than 80 metres. Events like that would sound crazy today, when no car rally is as long and has more than six time trials a day.
By the end of the second day of racing, we reach the assistance point located three kilometres from the final time trials of the day. The sky is grey, and clouds are coming over. An army of mechanics surrounds the Renault 5 Turbo. There are 15 of them, led by François Bernard, Renault Sport’s technical manager. I’ve known those guys for years. We had celebrated winning the Monte Carlo Rally the year before, thanks to the agility of the Renault 5 Turbo, which is really so fun and easy to drive. They have my complete confidence. I would never interfer with their work. I know they are doing their best, and giving 100%. During the few minutes it takes to change the tyres — and they also use that time to top up the fuel — I try to relax, I make jokes. Then Jean-Marc and I are off again.
I listen to his — very precise — notes warning me about obstacles. The tone of his voice grows sharper as we approach a tight corner or a bump. I know what I have to do because we function very well as a team. Now a shower of rain starts to fall. We were definitely right to have had the rain tyres put on. Jean-Claude Andruet, the clear favourite in the race in his Ferrari 308, with whom we had been neck and neck since the start and who arrived a few minutes behind us, hadn’t done the same. He couldn’t make up that fatal delay over the rest of the rally. I’ve been smiling since the start of this Tour de Corse. Everything’s going fine. Jean-Claude was on my tail until I crossed the finish line the next day. In fact the race went so well that I can’t tell you much more about it. That’s to be expected, because when you have no problems in a race, there’s not a lot to say about it afterwards... » Interview by Anaëlle Correc.
QUEEN OF THE RALLIES
The Renault 5 Turbo, nicknamed “Queen of the rallies” was equipped with a centrally mounted four-cylinder (1397cc) turbocharged rear engine delivering 285hp.