Walster to Debut Clio R3 in British Rally Championship
After tasting success in mainland Europe, Renault’s latest rally car, Clio R3, will make its full season debut in the 2009 British Rally Championship in the hands of rising talent Tom Walster.
Renault’s rally heritage will begin a new chapter in 2009 when the Clio Renaultsport R3 contests the British Rally Championship. Nottingham-based Tom Walster, 22, is in the process of building a rally car with the Maxi kit, in order to take the start line at the Bulldog International Rally in March that marks the start of the championship.
The Maxi kit is the higher of two specifications of Clio R3 available to customers (the other being Access) and Walster believes it will offer the best possible chance of success on the national stage. Walster says: “The car sounds phenomenal and is a beautiful looking thing. The spec sheet and the set-up recommendations from Renault Sport are mind-boggling and the whole specification is as good as it can be for the level it’s at.”
Walster has been building towards a campaign in the BRC since he began rallycross racing six years ago. The last three seasons have been spent driving a Fiesta ST in a one-make championship where he has won several stages. In 2008 he won the Pirelli ANCRO Challenge, providing a timely boost ahead of the step up next season.
“I got into rallying because my dad, Peter, used to rally,” explains Tom. “After three years with a 150hp Fiesta it was time to move on and the Clio offers the best package in my view. We went to watch a couple of them rallying in Catalunya and the bang it makes when changing gear with the flat-shift – wow! I’ve had a passenger ride in one and it’s just as good and I can’t wait to get out testing.”
Before he can turn a wheel in anger, the build job must be completed. Sellens Engineering, with active assistance from Hertford-based Renault dealer Ware Garage are working on the task in order for the car to be on show at the Autosport International Show in January, before Walster begins testing. Tom himself is playing his part, driving to the Magny Cours circuit in France to collect the engine in the week before Christmas.
“If it helps speed things up I’m more than happy to chip in,” laughs Tom. “It’s been great to see the car coming together and the guys have done a superb job. I believe we’ll be competitive in our class on the gravel rallies and when we can push a bit harder on the asphalt events we can go for a top result in the overall classification.
“Knowing the quality of the car and the experience I’ve picked up in my career so far I believe good results are possible. The fact that the car has been rallied in Europe for a couple of seasons means any reliability issues that come with all new cars should have been ironed out. All in all I can’t wait to get started and hopefully put Renault’s name back on the British rallying scene.”
Clio Renaultsport R3 will feature on the Renault Sport UK stand at the Autosport International Show, held at the NEC, Birmingham on 10th/11th January. If you would like to see the car in action, the calendar for the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship is as follows:
28th March – Bulldog International Rally North Wales (Based in Llangollen)17th/18th April – Pirelli International Rally (Based in Carlisle)22nd/23rd May – Jim Clark International Rally (Based in Kelso)10th/11th July – International Rally Isle of Man (Based in Douglas)21st/22nd August – Toddsleap.com Ulster International Rally26th September – International Rally of Yorkshire (Based in Pickering)