The new French Truck Racing Championship season is now here – and so is the new Aravi team! Major innovations this season include a new driver who has come straight from the world of motor rallying, Lionel Montagne, as well as a new sponsor, the Renault Trucks TruckDriver Club. But what is most important about this team, created 25 years ago and largely made up of Renault Trucks SAS staff, is its ambition to win back the French championship crown that it has already earned four times in the past. At Nogaro, during the first French Campionship Grand Prix, Lionel Montagne twice made it to the top step of the podium. He is now number two in the driver rankings, just three points behind the leader. Putting the Championship crown within his reach…
Created in 1986, the Aravi Team is largely made up of Renault Trucks SAS staff members, as well as one or two other truck racing enthusiasts. 25 years on, it is making a fresh start with the arrival of a new driver, Lionel Montagne, an event the team managers see as the statement of a new ambition. "We are aiming to get back to the top of the championship tables with Lionel," asserts Jean-Loup Fournier, former team driver and champion of France four times over.
Lionel Montagne has not been chosen by chance. Coming from the world of motorsport, he is a genuine, seasoned competition driver. A quick glance at his string of triumphs even puts him in the Champion category. In 1988, he was the youngest winner of the French Rally Cup. He then won a series of fine podium places in motor rallying. "Although I know nothing about trucks, I didn't hesitate for a single moment," explains Lionel Montagne. "I met the team and we decided to work together for a while." At Nogaro, the first French Championship Grand Prix event, Lionel Montagne won over the crowd, pulling off two fine firsts out of the weekend's four races.
Nevertheless, the team spirit on which its reputation hinges and has been the foundation of its finest hours, remains very strong. "The whole vehicle was assembled by the team," explains Jean-Loup Fournier. "We started off with two side members and built everything together," the former champion proudly declares.
Another new aspect of the season is the arrival of the TruckDriver Club as the Aravi team's sponsor. Formed by Renault Trucks, this club is exclusively devoted to drivers, offering them many benefits. These will include 60 customers being selected by a draw to meet the Aravi team at the Magny Cours Grand Prix and have lunch with them. They will also be able to experience all the excitement of the race at the heart of the action, in the paddock with the team. In recognition for these efforts, the manufacturer is making a Magnum available to the team. "Sponsoring us via the French truck driver club is a fine acknowledgement on the manufacturer's behalf," says Thierry Damiens, the team's president and a technician at Renault Trucks SAS.