Treluyer bids farwell! After making his debut in 2002, Benoit Treluyer's career in Formula Nippon came to an end at the weekend. The 2006 champion, who has 11 wins to his name, leaves the category as runner-up in the standings for a third time...
Treluyer bids farwell!
After making his debut in 2002, Benoit Treluyer's career in Formula Nippon came to an end at the weekend. The 2006 champion, who has 11 wins to his name, leaves the category as runner-up in the standings for a third time having also finishing second in 2003 and 2007.
No doubt the team Lawson-Impul driver would have preferred to say his goodbyes to the series in slightly more comfortable circumstances than last weekend, where a nasty muscle tear hampered him throughout the meeting.
"On Saturday morning during free practice I tore a muscle in my back," explained Treluyer. "The car suddenly oversteered and I made a sharp movement trying to catch it. It was a bad start to the weekend because I was unable to finish the session as I could no longer hold my head up properly."
For qualifying the French driver had to tape his helmet to his Hans device just to be able to drive.
"For me, it was out of the question to throw in the towel as that would have been disrespectful to the fans," said Treluyer. "In Q2 I was equal eighth fastest with another driver and the officials made a mistake and chose me to take part in Q3 even though the other driver set his time one lap before me! In Q3 I was seventh fastest, but I was relegated to ninth on the grid after a very strict application of the sporting regulations!"
Benoit made a fine start to the race the following day using a non-stop strategy from the fifth row of the grid and making progress up the field in his typical style.
"It began to rain lightly," said Benoit, "and that allowed me to climb up to second place. When the rain got heavier, everybody pitted for wet tyres. The team called me in but I couldn't get into the pit lane as a car blocked me at the entry. During the next lap the rain seemed to be much lighter, so I made the decision to stay on slicks."
Unfortunately, the rain didn't cease and the Frenchman started to slip down the order.
"Ten laps from the finish I was still in sixth place when someone tried to pass me and forced me to run wide into a very wet part of the track. I lost three more places there and finally finished ninth in the race, but still second in the championship."
Treluyer therefore leaves Formula Nippon at the top of his profession and by his own volition.
"I'm 32-years-old now and I think it is time to retire from driving single-seaters," he admitted. "I have had some wonderful times in Formula Nippon during the past eight seasons. I have won the title, finished second three times and won eleven races, but now is the time to leave it to the younger generation. I will now concentrate completely on GT racing in Japan and prototype racing in Europe or the United States."
Benoit also admitted that when he made the decision to stay on slicks in the rain, it was partly to treat his numerous supporters to a final spectacle!
"For my last Formula Nippon race I wanted to amuse myself and entertain the fans. I think I succeeded!"
The toughest job of the weekend for Benoit actually came at the end of the race, as he revealed his decision to stop racing in Formula Nippon to his mechanics.
"I said nothing beforehand because I didn't want the race to turn into a leaving party," he explained. "However I admit that there were tears in my eyes when Igarachi, my chief mechanic for the past six years, fell into my arms!"
Tears which Benoit's cartoon character 'Benoit-poy' will no doubt shed in the next episode to be found at www.benoittreluyer.com