Front wheel drive or wrong wheel drive as some like to sneer, has long been the undeserved victim of much criticism. Understeer, torque steer etc. are the usual phrases thrown about, along with lines like ‘the front wheels are for steering only’. I can probably guess however that the people who utter this nonsense have never had the privilege of seeing what a sorted FWD car is capable of…

On that note, let me introduce you to Jean Ragnotti. A Monte Carlo and Tour de Corse winner, Ragnotti is not only a Group B veteran but also has the rather impressive moniker of ‘God on Tarmac’. He may not have the infamy of his fellow countryman, monsieur Loeb, but make no mistake that the man is magic behind the wheel of a car. This video pays tribute to some of his best moments behind the wheel of his Renault Clio Maxi, the Group A7K 250+BHP two litre naturally aspirated and front wheel drive monster.

If you’ve never experienced Jeannot before, you’re in for a treat. My personal favourite moment comes at around the 4m10s mark. If ever there was a perfect example of #MAXIMUMATTACK…

-
Paddy McGrath
paddy@dev.speedhunters.com


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87 comments
kiraboy86
kiraboy86

good night ken block en France nous avons de trés bon pilote ^^ 

greenroadster
greenroadster

Talk about "throwing a car arround a corner"....At 1:06 - 1:11 the pilot is think out of box and into the woods....

Dasha
Dasha

I now have a much greater respect for FWD cars after seeing this

EvolveWRC
EvolveWRC

The Seat Ibiza Kit Car was the king of FWD

bakayaru
bakayaru

Rally hatches are the reason I like cars. Thanks for this! I'm glad the hipsters hate FWD right now, so I can buy FWD cars/parts cheap! Most people don't realize, that if they ever tried a rally themselves, they'd know that FWD on tarmac and tight courses is easier/better than AWD. RWD is no fun at all for rally. Then again, most kids on SH have only raced in videogames...

AlessandroLwSgreccia
AlessandroLwSgreccia

can i make a small specification? The kit cars are not really A7 (or A7k) group cars but they're used to be in K11 class because there were some differences from the A7s (2000cc); i know that in some rally races the organizers put those cars in the A7 or A7k class but it's not correct. 

One of the most important differences is the power of the engine, generally the A7s reach 220-230 hp (officially XD) instead the K11s can reach also 270-300 hp ; maybe the clio maxi has not all that power but  for sure the peugeot 306 maxi evo2 and the renault megane maxi have power around the 300 hp. Another difference is the displacement of the engine (2000cc for the A7s and from 2200cc to 2500cc for the kits).

Considering this,  the kit cars in a tarmac special stage can be fast as the old A8 cars or old wrc (in the right hands obviously ^^).

You can imagine this absurd situation (in the past years, especially in Italy my country) with some drivers in "normal" A7 cars and others driving a K11 in the same class!

 

Anyway i'm just a rally enthusiast =) I love your blog guys! And when you post this kind of things i love you even more!

 

see ya!

detonater
detonater

Wow...    Just WOW!  You sir, are a legend!

Serge914
Serge914

I used to drive a Civic with a Mugen LSD. It bring FWD to a different level of control and traction.

TheExoDozzMRT
TheExoDozzMRT

I saw Ragnotti last year at Charade for "Tour Auto Optic 2000" with an Alpine A110 1600s, just amazing how he drove the last corner : sideways!

Our french cars are amazing and not only with a race set up, just the basic Clio of my best friend's mom is funny to drive (900kg-90cv)...

Matiz
Matiz

There's one LITLLE secret- it is named quick steering rack :] Then you maybe can consider fwd as a fun to drive.

 

As many pepole said before- yeah, advantages, but "normal" fwd is still booring to drive.Only for kanjo racing :P

ioncelfals
ioncelfals

i`m late for work because of this

RLee90
RLee90

When properly sorted, driven well, and placed in competition in the right class, FWD doesn't really have much of a disadvantage. I drive a FWD car and enjoy it, but I know it's not ideal in many performance driving situations. At least it's easier and more forgiving to drive. Just can't really adjust rotation and rear slip angle like you can with RWD. BTW, Renault makes some of the best-performing FWD cars besides Honda. I wish they could sell their cars in the U.S.

KBR
KBR

SWEET BABY JESUS! thats one pissed off little car! great driving skills!!!

izzy_ortiz
izzy_ortiz

This was very thrilling, thank you

 

 

perpetualroad.wordpress.com

EOS
EOS

When these F2 cars competed in WRC, they were often quicker than the 4wd turbo cars on dry tarmac. Fact . They also sounded incredible and were more entertaining to watch on those stages . This man and a few others like him were the reason why, just awesome .

FWD4TW
FWD4TW

Rally driving...Like a Mafukin Boss!

that4AGsound
that4AGsound

In my opinion, there are plenty of great FWD cars but, as a drivetrain, it's very flawed. I have a newfound respect for FWD but my opinion has not changed and it never will.

markmctavish
markmctavish

That's something that not very many people could do.  Out standing control and commitment!

ylee
ylee

For the ones that say FWD are boring, go out and drive one on the track. You will definitely enjoy it. Most FWD haters have never experienced a FWD car.  A friend of mine (he owns a z06) used to always hate FWD cars. One day, i got him a chance at driving another friend's car (turbo EG). that changed his perspective for life. 

varilight
varilight

Up to a certain power limit FWD is just as competitive as any other drivetrain layout. However I can't think of many people who would go out of their way and choose a FWD over the others.

Spike4090
Spike4090

FWD is still boring, sorry Paddy. To say it isn't, is like saying Ken Block is fast. It's just something that isn't true.

BenD
BenD

When speedhunters start the fwd week ,i was thinking of Jean Ragnotti and this particuliar video ...and you made it !!!

In France Jean is very well known for is talent to make the show on any rally stage by throwing his car on mad sideways.He is a very funny guy out of the car too.

I was always impress to see he could beat some better awd cars.

FWD can be fun ,take some old school fwd hot hatch like a 205 gti (because i got one) ,you don't have to go really fast to do some lift oversteer and have the back of your car trying to go to the front.I'm sure old clio or golf or all pug from that era do the same.

roeby
roeby

Very similiar to my commute to work!

RS Anthony
RS Anthony

What does this video show? A very experienced and talented racing driver. Using a purpose built vehicle. On a closed road. In a competition. In other words: nothing close to the everyday life of moft. This is not the kind of thing any trivial driver can enjoy. This is not the usual daily commute or sunday drive kind of fun for most people. And this is what bothers me with FWD. In order to have real fun you need 1- a race track or 2- to push things to an extent that is way reprehensible on public roads. Now give me RWD. I don't have to drive like 20 miles above the limits to feel how superior this layout is with regards to steering feel, weight distribution, etc. Just give me rain and an industrial area. I will have more fun sideways at 30 mph than trying to avoid terminal understeer at 60.

FWD can be good. Some rally or WTCC cars prove it. But we're talking racing cars here. For everyday, RWD is just easier to have fun with, even at slower speeds.

Budd19
Budd19

While that's impressive, I've seen footage of him doing even more frightening moves, threading the needle through a village after coming in on the speed limiters, sideways in the air. The man is on a completely different level. He was born to drive FWD, anything else would be a waste of his talents.

GregSampson
GregSampson

 @AlessandroLwSgreccia Is my memory correct that Francois Delacour was also the first driver to win a WRC event outright in a FWD Citroen Xsara Kit Car? I want to say that was mid-90s at a tarmac event, but the issue of Autosport detailing the rally is in someone else's home library now...

PaddyMcGrath
PaddyMcGrath moderator

 @AlessandroLwSgreccia Great information Alessandro, thank you!

 

I think the early Clio Maxi was 'officially' around 250BHP with the later versions exceeding 275BHP so perhaps this is why the car might have appeared in two separate classes over time? 

Spiff0
Spiff0

Yes "normal" FWD are boring, not drifty (...depends on what normal is ;) ) etc... but they are much faster on little road ;) I am driving FWD and RWD on little roads of Provence in France everyday. Clio RS1 or 205 GTi are burning any RWD on that kind of roads... just the AWD are challenging ;) After it is matter of driving skills too, and habits. Jean Ragnotti was flying with his RWD Renault 5 Turbo in Group B :) For me one of the 5 best pilot ever, all categories considered!

varilight
varilight

@somebodysb2 isn't that because the lack of entries of RWD?

varilight
varilight

@ylee I think a lot of the "haters" are just saying comparatively that FWD is boring compared to the other layouts.

goon
goon

Maybe it's my driving, but precise steering feel, weight distribution, etc is usually observed when pushing the car a bit. Slow acceleration to 25 miles an hour will feel mostly the same, regardless if you're in a Prius or a Pantera (disregard your sense of hearing and sight). Changing lanes on the freeway at 55 miles an hour will generally feel the same. The way driving laws/restrictions are set up, every car is meant to feel the same. 

 

You're also forgetting autocross. Loads of fun at low speeds. 

 

Just give me an industrial area and some cones. I will have more fun dodging cones and honing my skills than trying to avoid terminal oversteer at low speeds in a parking lot.

I'm not trying to put rear wheel drive down, just playing a bit of devil's advocate.

GuillaumedelaBastie
GuillaumedelaBastie

 @Budd19 I live in France and have seen the man in action with many different cars on stage and on track. Take a look at his videos in Renaut 5 turbo, RWD with insane ON/OFF action, he is just as entertaining to watch. Mr. Ragnotti was probably born with a wheel in his hands and a clear capacity to make any car go like hell ! Also that little Clio Maxi was one of the (or the) best FWD in its time. Still often beats the crap out of many newer cars in uphill racing. 

AlessandroLwSgreccia
AlessandroLwSgreccia

 @GregSampson  @AlessandroLwSgreccia ahah man you have a great memory here you are the answer.  i found this ;) www.rallyedefrance.com/palmares honestly i didn't remember the past victories but for sure i can say two things, Delecour was only an official peugeot driver in fact he drove the 306 maxi but Bugalsky (RIP) was the official Citroen driver. He drove the Xara maxi kit and i found that he won in 1999 the Tour de Corse and Rally RACC (Catalunya). All tarmac rallyes ;) Panizzi and Delecour drove the 306 maxi.

19ecureuils
19ecureuils

 @PaddyMcGrath  @AlessandroLwSgreccia 

The differences between Gr A and Kit cars are not on the displacement.

Compared to Gr A, kit cars were entitled to Modify the original body by extending and using aerodynamic appendages.

The kit should be produced by the manufacturer

For the engine, they could change the intake manifold to replace the original ones on Gr A, which limited engine power by 4 throttle bodies.

The wheels were no longer limited to only 2 inches longer than series.

The recipe was simple enough and that was the goal, it was necessary that GrA reach a level of performance consistent with the price they reached.

With a big admission, wide track, large wheels and a big spoiler, the result was good too: same power as the wrc and lighter.

 

AlessandroLwSgreccia
AlessandroLwSgreccia

 @PaddyMcGrath ahah good question! well honestly i don't know. We should read the old rally entry list. But i believe that in the world rally races we will find those cars in the Kit class and in the local races we could find this sort of contraddiction.

Generally, when the official teams bring some evolution, the car should remain in the same class...well unless the evolution has been created to make this car pass a further class, but i don't know if this is the case of the kit cars. We should also consider that the kit cars in the omologation documents are an extention of the group A cars with some "special" (and really expensive) parts.

Probably also this aspect plays a role in the confusion of the rally event organizers.

The kit cars are my favourite rally cars, i mean i love turbos but the sensations that gives you the scream of those engines coming from the valley is something special for me :D

RLee90
RLee90

 @varilight  @somebodysb2 Not really. It's because of a few reasons. In low-power classes, there's not much advantage RWD has over FWD. Also, the drivers of the RWD BMW WTCC cars can't hop curbs to lift the inside drive wheel from the ground then land while still planted in the throttle otherwise they risk breaking the half shaft. There's also a slight but noticeable weight disadvantage of the BMW 3-series WTCC chassis. They just can't reduce any more weight from the chassis. The FWD cars take better advantage of lifting the inside drive wheel over curbs to corner faster without putting enough stress to break driveshafts.

varilight
varilight

@somebodysb2 @that4AGsound A brilliant car, which I didn't know existed however I doubt the domination.

varilight
varilight

@goon It probably is your driving then because I can't think of any RWD cars which have "terminal oversteer" at low speeds. Also the examples you give are not very relatable as who would compare these rather mundane acts in different drivetrain layouts?

AlessandroLwSgreccia
AlessandroLwSgreccia

 @PaddyMcGrath well i'm sure that the kits have other things omologated for the engine like pistons, conrods, 4 throttle bodies for example. It's a big difference because for a group A you can take the stock engine and if you don't have enough money you can prepare conrods, pistons, cranckshaft from the original pieces by your own. The concept of the kit car is precisely in the kit wich is sold and built by the manifacturer. But the difference is bigger from a gr.A

somebodysb2
somebodysb2

 @RLee90  @varilight Also, FWD can be saved extremely easily. In WTCC 2012, we have seen countless examples of "pedal to the metal" car control from the likes of Muller, Tarquini, etc. RWD on the other hand is just an On/Off switch. So 400HP and under touring car application, FWD wins. Easily. 

 

I say 400 because BTCC 2013 overboost will allow that figure.

goon
goon

 @varilight  @goon my mistake, meant say "on slippery surfaces at low speeds", referring to his industrial area/rain example. And the reason I gave those seemingly mundane acts is because that is all that is done on most people's daily commutes ( in response to his point about the video not pertaining to everyday life. In everyday life, A/F/RWD plays little role)--slow driving and lane changes.


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