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Renault - the defections begin

THE brain drain at Renault Sport - which has been predicted for some time - has begun with the departure from Viry-Chatillon of one of Renault Sport technical director Bernard Dudot's brightest young engineers - 32-year-old Vincent╩Gaillardot - who is to join Tom Walkinshaw Racing.

A mechanical engineer from the celebrated Ecole Superieure des Techniques Aeronautiques et Constructions Automobiles Gaillardot has spent the last five seasons working with the Renault V10 and his knowledge will be invaluable for Walkinshaw as he tries to develop the Yamaha V10 engine. Gaillardot also knows how to work with Damon Hill because in 1992 he was the Renault engineer attached to the Williams test team when Hill was still the test driver. He has lived in England and speaks English fluently. It is ironic that his skill in English resulted in his posting in 1993 to Ligier - which at the time had two non-French-speaking drivers (Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell). He stayed at Ligier in 1994 and then went to work as Michael╩Schumacher's motor engineer at Benetton. Schumacher won the World Championship. Last year he stayed at Benetton and worked with Jean Alesi.

Other Renault engineers likely to be targeted by the opposition include research chief Jean-Jacques His (who quit Renault for Ferrari when Renault was out of racing in 1987-88), electronics ace Jean-Marc Brepson and race engineers Denis╩Chevrier, Eric Faron, Christian Blum and Bruno Mauduit.

There have even been rumors in recent days in France that Dudot himself may jump ship after Renault pulls out of F1 at the end of the year to join Alain Prost's new team (based around Ligier) which is expected to use Peugeot engines in 1998. Dudot's knowledge would be invaluable to Peugeot.

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