Nippon: Benoit Treluyer Autopolis summary

Treluyer concedes the title Poor qualifying and a strategic race-day mistake have ended Benoît Treluyer's hopes of capturing this year's Formula Nippon crown at Autopolis. During the season finale in Sugo at the end of September, the Frenchman...

Treluyer concedes the title

Poor qualifying and a strategic race-day mistake have ended Benoît Treluyer's hopes of capturing this year's Formula Nippon crown at Autopolis. During the season finale in Sugo at the end of September, the Frenchman will attempt to clinch the runners-up spot for a third time, instead of fighting for a second title.

The Lawson-Impul driver's chances of fighting for victory suffered a set-back in qualifying when what seemed like a minor inconvenience at the time would ultimately prove disastrous.

"I was on my flying lap when unfortunately I got stuck behind my team mate who was warming up his tyres," says Benoît glumly. "I had to abort my lap in order to try again next time round--"

Yellow flags during that second attempt however would see his and championship rival Loïc Duval's best laps scratched from the classification.

"I did my best lap under yellow flags which, when disallowed, dropped me down the classification. I found myself only ninth on the grid, just ahead of Duval. At that moment, there was still at least a small hope of fighting for the championship--"

At the start, Benoît made a good getaway to move up to sixth by the end of the opening lap.

"I got stuck behind a slower competitor," he continued. "I should have stopped a bit earlier, but we made a mistake with the strategy."

Duval, who had stopped five laps earlier, was able to jump his fellow countryman after the first stint, aided no doubt by Benoît losing time during his stop.

"In addition to this," he points out, "the guy who blocked me out on the track pitted at the same time. I was adamant that I would come out in front of him so I tried to get the maximum traction when I restarted--and stalled! That lost us even more time restarting the engine."

The outcome? 32 seconds adrift of the leaders. Nevertheless, with his championship chances hanging by a thread, Benoît had to go for broke and proceeded to mount a stunning comeback. Setting lap record after lap record and reeling in those ahead at the rate of one second per lap, he eventually rejoined the leading group, overtaking two rivals on his way to eighth. Sadly, his effort would ultimately fall agonisingly short.

"I needed to overtake a third car in order to remain in the title chase. I scored one point but with Duval third, he secured the title. Meanwhile Takashi Kogure, his Nakajima team mate, won the race and is now only three points behind me."

In Sugo on 27 September, Benoît's main objective will be to defend his second place in order to clinch a third Formula Nippon vice-championship.

Despite the disappointment, one can look forward to the next episode of "Benoît-poy" -- a cartoon you can discover at www.benoittreluyer.com -- which should add extra spice to the final round of the championship, as well as offering a laugh or two along the way.

-credit: bt

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Benoit Tréluyer , Takashi Kogure , Loic Duval