Renaultsport RS01 hits the track with Alain Prost at the wheel

Published: 21 October 2014

Renault’s wild Renaultsport RS01 racing car has turned a wheel for the first time in public – with none other than four-time F1 champion Alain Prost at the wheel.

In a demonstration run at the finale of the World Series by Renault single-seater championship, the RS01 lapped the Spanish Jerez circuit in front of 58,000 spectators.

Prost wasn’t the only famous hand driving the RS01, with rally hero Jean Ragnotti and ex-Toro Rosso F1 pilot Sebastien Buemi also taking turns behind the wheel.

Remind me what the Renaultsport RS01’s all about.

Looking a bit like an Audi R8 trying to go undercover as a Megane, the mid-engined RS01 will race in its own one-make championship called the Renaultsport Trophy series, as part of the support race package for the Formula Renault 3.5 championship (the category that Kevin Magnussen won on his way to becoming a McLaren F1 driver).

With a carbonfibre chassis built by Italian specialists Dallara, a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 engine with around 500bhp borrowed from the Nissan GT-R Nismo, and that breathtaking bodywork with styling cues designed to echo models from Renault’s road range (the car is a promotional tool after all), it’s a pretty mouth-watering proposition.

Designed as a springboard for teams and drivers aiming for the likes of GT, DTM and Le Mans in the future, there will be classes for both ‘Pro’ and ‘Am’ drivers. There’s a tantalising carrot for the drivers in the shape of an LMP2 drive in the 2016 Le Mans 24hrs for the Am champion and a possible Nismo works drive in the Japanese Super GT championship for the Pro champ.

What did Prost make of it?

Predictably, given that he’s a Renault ambassador, Prost described the RS01 as ‘magnificent’, adding that it feels like a ‘typical endurance car’ to drive. We’d expect nothing less, as the RS01 was built to FIA LMP1 safety regs and develops a similar level of downforce to an all-singing, all-dancing Formula Renault 3.5 car.

Teams will take delivery of the Renaultsport RS01 from March 2015, having stumped around £280,000 per car, with the first race taking place at Spa towards the middle of the year. We can’t wait.

Read more about the Renaultsport RS01 in our original story

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer