Vehicle Lead Casey Ringley opens up the Renault R.S.01 and finds a thoroughbred built for DTM-levels of pure performance.
The Renault Sport R.S. 01 was created primarily to run in the Renault Sport Trophy, a one-design motor racing series and a springboard for professional GT and Endurance championships. The inspiration for Renault’s mid-engine racer was the world of concept cars, and with over 500hp and a top speed in excess of 300kmh, this is a serious race car with serious performance numbers. How serious? The R.S. 01, which was homologated for competition in the FIA GT3 category, had to be detuned by Renault because it was too fast—Renault was forced to add 50kgs (along with 100kg of ballast) and swap out the carbon brakes to gain its GT3 license. In Project CARS, though, you get the R.S.01 as it was originally conceived.
The design—under the careful gaze off legendary designer Laurens van den Acker—is not only beautiful, but all the bits (and a careful look at this race car will indicate dozens of both subtle and not-so-subtle touches on the bodywork) are there to enhance aerodynamic performance: the blade of the lower splitter, for instance, helps push the nose of the car down, while the two fins on the bumper generate what Renault call ‘vortices that limit the turbulence of the rotating wheels’.
In the right hands, the R.S.01 will be a serious challenger for any GT3 car in Project CARS. It features a carbon fiber monocoque chassis built and designed by Dallara. The semi-stressed engine, a 3.8L V6 twin-turbo, is bolted to the carbon monocoque chassis on the distribution side, and is a Nissan VR38DETT, almost straight out of the Nissan GT-R GT3. Good for 550hp at 6,800rpm. Occasionally they run slightly lower boost to get 500hp; not sure exactly how they decide when to run lower boost, though.
Power to the rear is through a 7-speed Sadev sequential ’box with flat shifting. Smart design using the seven gears because it means there’s no need to ever think about changing ratios for any given track—there’s always one that will have you in the power band for each turn, along with an appropriate top speed.
Suspension geometry was all taken from CAD points. Nothing too fancy there, but it is nice how they’ve designed the rocker arms to give a near perfectly linear 1:1 motion ratio at front and rear. There was also enough detail in the CAD to estimate wheel rates for the anti-roll bars, which is cool—we almost never get data as pure wheel rate numbers. A conventional double wishbone layout here with pushrods and Öhlins dampers. Adjustable for compression and rebound.
The brakes combine 380 mm carbon discs from PFC Brakes along with Bosch Motorsport ABS.
No official aero’ numbers came with that data, but vague PR-type numbers are floating around the web. Official website claims 1.7 metric tons of downforce at 186mph. This is very hard to believe as it would mean a lift:drag efficiency over 4.0—better than some LMP cars. Other reviews are stating 1200kgf @ 190mph. This makes much more sense. It’s essentially a GT3 car with LMP2 underbody Venturi tunnels. If I put an LMP2-style underbody/diffuser on one of our GT3 models, it matches up to that number very closely, and performance looks about correct.
Tyres are Michelin’s standard GT3 set. No mention of what type of rubber compound, but I’d have to guess it’s one of the harder versions because The World Series by Renault seems to stress tyre management, with teams only getting two or three sets per weekend. Making them last takes some effort, too, because with more power, no driver aids, and much more downforce than a GT3 car, this thing really stresses the tyres. It’s very easy to overheat and cook them, too, so keep that in mind.
So how quick is the R.S.01 exactly? Fast, very fast. It weighs just under 1,100kgs, and with these levels of downforce along with 550hp, it’s running just off DTM pace. Quick drivers will be in the 2.11s at Spa, which could conceivably match up with an average driver in LMP2. This is one impressive race machine right here.
Note that we did deviate from the standard RS01 suspension setup slightly for defaults. Numbers from RS indicate 900lb/in front springs, and 1200lb/in rears with very low ride heights of 42mm front / 55mm rear. That works quite well at a fast, smooth track like Spa, but it’s a bit harsh for a lot of other tracks such as Oulton Park, for instance. Our default raises and softens it a bit to work better all around, but you will find some more pace at the fast tracks with the numbers above.
Motion Ratio: Front= 1.0/Rear= 1.0
Damper Transitions: 50mm/s bump, 80mm/s rebound (front and rear)