Renault Red Bull Race After Five-Lap Smash and Dash

My Drive | David Coulthard racked up his third win at the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit in Melbourne on March 18, taking out a photo finish victory at the end of a bruising and action-packed encounter in the Renault Red Bull Race Off. And while the former Formula 1 GP winner held off V8 Supercar star Rick Kelly by a microscopic 0.04 seconds for victory, getting to the line first required a major amount of determination and race speed.

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

Following a short and spectacular flight by Renault Jet Pack Man helping to line up the cars on the grid, six identical Mégane Renault Sport 250 coupés charged away from the line with Kelly keen to repeat his Saturday victory. He was eagerly pursued by Speedway champion Jason Crump in his first ever weekend of four-wheeled racing, aspirant V8 Supercar challenger Samantha Reid, Crusty Demon’s two-wheeled daredevil Robbie Maddison (who won this event in 2011), and dark horse drift-king Mad Mike Whiddett.

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

After just five frenetic laps of the Red Bull Race Off, each of the Renault’s showed a degree of panel damage raging from race rash to rampant road rage. From the start, mid-corner pushing and shoving saw the lead change several times per lap as caution was flung to the wind and the red mist descended. “I was hit by everybody yesterday, but I didn’t hit back,” Samantha Reid said ahead of the finale. “I won’t be so nice today.” However, Reid stayed clear of much of the smash and dash carnage to finish a strong fourth.

Robbie Maddison seemed to be bent on bending as many rivals’ doors as possible while Jason Crump spent much of the time trying to stay out of trouble, not always successfully. For drifter Mad Mike, not using the handbrake in corners was something of a novelty, but his approach was to nail the throttle all the way round and unsettle the car with a dab of left foot braking. “That seemed to work,” he said afterwards. “Robbie seemed to think straight lining some of the curves was a better route.” Despite finishing well down the field on both days, Speedway star Jason Crump set the fastest lap of 2.37.6 on Saturday and 2.27.49 on Sunday.

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

The Red Bull Race Off was an entertaining automotive brawl that despite its intensity provided viewers both trackside and on TV with a dynamic demonstration of the Mégane RS 250’s drivability and durability. “The racing was very competitive and perhaps a touch too close for my comfort,” said Justin Hocevar, Renault Australia Managing Director, who commentated on the race for GPTV through only partially gritted teeth.

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

My Drive | Renault Red Bull Race Melbourne F1 GP

“The Red Bull Race Off did provide great entertainment and a fantastic opportunity for these very powerful and successful road cars to show off their racing genes in a very appropriate environment. “On a weekend when Renault powered a full third of the Formula 1 field, it was wonderful to see our six road cars on track at max attack speed as well. “My congratulations to David Coulthard for returning to take up the Red Bull Race Off challenge and for his narrow yet impressive win.”

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