Road Atlanta: Benoit Treluyer race report
"A formidable team." Petit Le Mans, the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, did not provide the result that either BenoÃ®t TrÃ©luyer or the Audi team were hoping for. However, this did not prevent the Frenchman from providing ...
"A formidable team."
Petit Le Mans, the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, did not provide the result that either Benoît Tréluyer or the Audi team were hoping for. However, this did not prevent the Frenchman from providing a positive debrief of his second experience at the wheel of the Audi R15 TDI, and his first on North American soil.
"Everything went quite well," he said during the evening of the 10-hour race, "except that the car didn't enjoy going off track very much!
"André [Lotterer] came upon a very slow LMP2 and had to take to the grass," explains Tréluyer. "This was enough to damage the front splitter, which went underneath the car and did a lot of harm. That lost time would never be recovered, but the team did an incredible job and managed to repair the car with amazing speed. We only lost around fifteen laps, despite them having to take the car into the back of the pits to change one full corner."
When the accident happened, André was in third position after a great start to the race by Marcel Fässler, following a superb qualifying effort by Benoît.
"It was my first qualifying session in a prototype and I did quite well, finishing four-tenths off pole. With a bit more luck I could have even split the two 908s," he said happily.
As in Le Mans, it was Fässler who took the start, and the Swiss racer drove a strong first stint during which he managed to reel in the Peugeots, and even overtake one of them.
"Unfortunately, Marcel was caught out by a Formula Le Mans car stopped at a corner," said Benoît. "He avoided contact by putting two wheels on the grass, but the Peugeot was able to overtake him again. So Marcel finished his stint in third place and handed over to André, who maintained the position until the slow-running LMP2 forced him to take to the grass in the Esses."
Following repairs to the car Tréluyer took to the track, and was able to match the pace of the Peugeots.
"I wanted to get past, and I put the nose of the car alongside them several times, but they never let me through. I was 15 laps down and I was not going to take any unnecessary risks. At one point I found myself in the middle of the battle between the #7 Audi and the two Peugeots! In the end we took 6th place - a great comeback."
Whilst the Frenchman's disappointment was plain to see it did not cancel out the positives of his second outing with the Audi team.
"It is the first time that we have set the car up our way," he noted with a smile. "The 'older brothers' damaged two tubs during the week, leaving them a bit lost on set-up. In the end they adopted ours, and their approval was a real honour for us.
"Our engineer Leena, who was also doing her second race after having worked on the #7 at the 24 Hours, and her assistant Justin, who was on our car in June, did a fantastic job. My hat goes off to them and also to our crew of mechanics, who did not have a relaxed week but performed brilliantly."
Benoît will meet this formidable racing family again during the winter for several tests, as he and the team prepare for the 2011 campaign. Until then he will be back in Japan, where he will contest the final two Super GT rounds of the 2010 season.
-source: BenoitTreluyer PR
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