Rot. This is the first word that comes to the mechanic’s mind when he first sees the 4L restored by Nathan Peyronnet in January 2020. A Renault 4 with a special history. To know that, you have to go back a few years.
A 4L as a gift
After undergoing a kidney transplant at the age of 7, the young man, now 21, was followed by Professor Allard of Limoges, who at the time was driving a 4L. The famous rotten 4L from 1987, but still one of the brand’s newest models. “He told me no one parked next to him because there was always a puddle of oil in his place,” Nathan says.
While discussing with him under a control agreement, Nathan submits his idea of participating in the 4L Trophy. “He answered me, I offer you mine”, smiles the student. After a few months of studying in Montargis, Nathan returns to Limoges and takes the car to the garage. “Of course, it did not pass the technical control. The mechanic told me that with this chassis the car could bend at every turn, ”laughs the young man.
His teammate, Etienne Dessimoulie, confirms: “there was a huge hole in the floor”. With 250,000 kilometers on the watch, the 4L did not end up in spare parts. Nathan decided to keep it and restore it to perform this famous charity raid.
Nathan (left) and Etienne (right) have known each other since elementary school.
In shifts to a master’s degree in agricultural marketing at a company in Nancy, the student returns to Limoges every weekend to perform the necessary repairs. During these two days, his friend Etienne comes to give him a hand. After several weeks, the young heavyweight mechanic naturally ends up becoming the ideal teammate for Nathan. A logical duo, as the two boys have been friends since primary school.
A collective and united project was born out of this beautiful friendship, carried by an unfailing motivation, as a challenge to be addressed to questionable parents: “they told us: ‘it’s a pipe you will never leave'”. However, the two students are ready to live this adventure. “We loved carrying out this project from start to finish,” say the team members, but it tried. I think the trip will be easier than the preparations, “suggests Nathan, watching his co-pilot nod.
The Rilhacois crew spent more than 2,000 euros on parts, changed floors twice and reassembled and reassembled the engine no less than four times. “When we got her back, we wanted to see her general condition. To do this, we put a strap to the tractor and lifted it … The chassis remained on the ground, ”says Nathan, who mimics the car in the air.
The two friends spent a lot of time with their heads in the bonnet of the car.
We also changed the side members (alloys that make the car more resistant), and then the gearbox, which we broke on the highway because we had forgotten to refill some oil. Ten days ago we had one last fright, we disassembled the engine again ”, smiles Etienne, while Nathan fears the last hiccup the day before start. “But everything is fine, reassures Etienne, 4L has passed the pre-inspection. »
From now on, it is only the mechanical collapse of the Moroccan desert that scares the crew that takes on the road this morning to Biarritz. While being supported by their parents, who will be present until the finish line, which this year is extraordinarily located on the International Motorway in Marrakech.
A car race, but above all
a humanitarian raid
If the 4L Trophy is a car race that rewards those who cover the fewest kilometers, the goal lies above all in the distribution of donations.
Preparation. After an entry of 3,000 euros, the crew had to find sponsors to pay for the necessary repairs. “With Covid, we had a lot of trouble finding sponsors. But in one week, we raised almost 11,000 euros, especially from local businesses,” the students explain.
Take off. Étienne Dessimoulie and Nathan Peyronnet leave Limoges today for Biarritz with nine other crews from the department. Then the two students cross Spain on Thursday to take the boat to reach Morocco. In ten days, they will travel nearly 6,000 kilometers, of which 3,500 between Biarritz and Marrakech and spend six days in the desert.
Distribution. During the second stage in Morocco, Étienne and Nathan will distribute school supplies and clothing to the association “Les Enfants du désert”. “The Cassepierre school provided us with supplies. The town hall of Rilhac-Rancon has donated football jerseys and French blue t-shirts,” says Étienne. also thinking about not selling the car to carry out other raids, such as the Alpina raid, a crossing of the Alps. “
Step. In the desert, students have to cover 200 kilometers while orienting themselves using a map and a compass. “We leave between 9.00 and 10.00 to return to the bivouac around 17.00. In the evening we refuel and sleep in tents,” adds Nathan.
Photos: Stéphane Lefevre