"A happy reunion with the Audi team." Petit Le Mans, held at the Road Atlanta circuit, represents the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), and is set to play host to this year's fourth confrontation between the factory...
"A happy reunion with the Audi team."
Petit Le Mans, held at the Road Atlanta circuit, represents the second round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC), and is set to play host to this year's fourth confrontation between the factory Audi and Peugeot teams. Whilst the French manufacturer won at Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone it was the German marque who clinched victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours, and they now have their sights set on the ILMC title. As such two Audi R15 TDIs are present at the American race, with Kristensen-Capello-McNish and Lotterer-Fassler-Treluyer set to pilot the cars. Benoît arrived at Road Atlanta at the end of last week to take part in two test days.
"I had not seen the Audi team since the 24 Hours and I was delighted to meet up with them again," he says. "Since mid-June I have contested quite a lot of races in Japan, so I've not had an opportunity to see them."
As the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup is a constructor-only championship Audi is alternating its drivers, so that each of them can spend as much time as possible in the car. And, although the two test days preceding the event were interrupted by rain, Treluyer is enthusiastic about getting back behind the wheel of the R15 TDI.
"It is such a pleasure to drive the Audi R15 TDI again! I loved the 24 Hours, but here we run with a lot more downforce and you need to be flat out all the time. We can really get 100% from the car.
"On top of that, what a track! I hadn't driven the Road Atlanta circuit before, and now I am a big fan. Before arriving I did some practice on the simulator, just to get a preview of the place, but I didn't think it was as fantastic as it is. What a delight! They don't make circuits like this anymore. There are very few run off areas and several elevation changes, so it is anything but boring. It is a real track - just like they made in the old days!"
Petit Le Mans will be Benoît's final racing event of 2010 with the Ingolstadt-based squad, and the Frenchman has only one target: victory.
"The objective is to win the race," he says with conviction. "If we are on the top step of the podium on Saturday night it will mean we have beaten the 908s. It will be difficult, but we are going to give everything we have. The two test days - or rather the test day, as heavy showers interrupted a full day of running - have allowed us to get prepared and work on set-ups. Having not known the circuit beforehand it was important to do this running; the same goes for Marcel (Fassler), who had already driven here but only in GT2. Andre (Lotterer), who had a race last weekend, was not able to take part in the test, but he has now arrived and tested during free practice on Wednesday."
As well as an ILMC round Petit Le Mans is also one of the main events of the ALMS championship, and a key date on the North American racing calendar. Audi will be out to take revenge after the 2009 race was shortened following torrential rain, which prevented a fair fight to the finish. This year Benoît and his team-mates will be doing everything they can to make sure Audi get the result they want.
The 1000 miles/10 hours of racing begins on Saturday at 11h20 local time (17h20 CET).