Oh goody, another 'ring lap record argument to have - been a while since we've had one of those. With Germany out of lockdown - or at least sufficiently so to permit Nordschleife laps - we're out of the blocks with a belter: the Renault Sport Megane Trophy-R.
At its launch a year ago this week, the second Megane Trophy-R came with an outrageous Nurburgring lap time claim: Laurent Hurgon had gone around in 7:40, beating all previous front-wheel drive efforts. There was video, of course, and what appeared, to all intents and purposes, to be a standard Trophy-R - albeit with the full roster of options that make it a £72,000 car.
Well, now we have one of those very same cars - #25 of 500, with the carbon wheels and ceramic brakes - tested on the Nordschleife with sportauto's Christian Gebhardt at the wheel. Free from the shadiness of manufacturer record attempts - a practice we'll hopefully see the end of soon, with officially sanctioned Nurburgring lap times coming into force - we can finally see what the mega Megane is objectively capable of.
Turns out 7:55.1 is the key number. Which, it must be said, is some way off Hurgon's time, if still monstrously rapid for a 1.8-litre, front-wheel drive car. We've put both videos below to compare and contrast where the time has been made up; in Gebhardt's defence, Hurgon is Renault Sport's development driver, and will have done hundreds more laps in the car there than anybody else. Don't forget, either, that binning a prototype in the hunt for a lap record must have much less severe consequences than writing off a customer car as part of a feature for sportauto. Gebhardt never appears to be making any concessions to that lingering thought, but it likely plays on his mind - even subconsciously.
And even if 7:55 isn't quite the record-breaking number, this vid proves just how fast going under eight minutes really is - a number we've all become a little blasé about - and, crucially, the Megane's time compares favourably with other sportauto laps. The Mercedes-AMG A45 S could only use its extra 120hp (and Pirelli Trofeo Rs) to go six seconds quicker, the Toyota Supra clocked a 7:52.1 and an M2 Competition 7:52.3. It should be noted, too, that the Megane was using the standard Bridgestone Potenza S007, as also fitted to the standard Trophy.
Anyway, enough waffle - time for the vid. And, no doubt, for the conspiracy theories to begin...