Treluyer's return hails podium finish
Benoit Treluyer returned to the familiar surroundings of Team Motul-Autech at Fuji Speedway last weekend where he helped the reigning champions regain the championship top spot thanks to a second place finish.
In a show of support following the penalty that kept him out of the previous round, the squad asked Benoit to qualify their Nissan GT-R that he shares with team mate Satoshi Motoyama. "Nissan were adamant that I regain my status as Number 1 driver. I therefore took part in the qualifying session which was held in rainy conditions. We weren't expecting to do that well considering the 48 kilos of success ballast onboard. I managed the third best time before the #8 NSX, which qualified second, lost ten places on the grid following an engine change, promoting us to the front row."
Sunday morning brought with it the first dry running of the weekend, prompting the entire field to take part in the warm-up in an effort to find a good set-up and correct tyre choice, a task hampered by a still slightly damp circuit.
"My team mate started the race with a full tank of fuel and hard-compound tyres," explained Treluyer. "Despite finding it a bit difficult to maintain the front runners' pace during the opening laps he still coped reasonably well and finished the stint only 10 seconds off the lead."
Benoit returned to the action with a new set of hard-compound tyres as the track continued to dry. He exited the pits nose-to-tail with the third placed runner.
"He came out in front of me but I managed to get past and reel in second position. Unfortunately, it was impossible to overtake after Lexus and Honda, believing that Nissan is too fast, were authorized to use bigger engine restrictors."
Despite a straight line speed deficit, Treluyer was able regain time lost through the corners. Following the car ahead closely however was impacting badly on his downforce levels and subsequently hurting the tyres. To have any chance of finishing the race, he would need to back off and preserve the rubber.
"With only five laps to go, I started to push as much as possible and managed to re-catch the Lexus. I think he must have got a bit confused amongst the GT300 traffic, allowing me to pass on the inside, although it was quite close until he darted to the left. I just carried on my way and finished only 1.7 seconds behind the winner, Team Firman-Isawa."
After the race, Team Tom's made an official complaint to race stewards but were unable to prove that contact had been made, leaving the final result to stand.
"We are 10 points ahead in the championship with two races left. As there won't be any ballast applied at the final round we are in a good position," added Treluyer, his attention having switched to the penultimate race at Autopolis on October 17/18.
Here's hoping that this little episode makes "Bonoit-poy" happy in his latest adventure, a cartoon you can discover at www.benoittreluyer.com. Be sure to also look out for a nod to Mount Fuji which Treluyer was due to climb the day after the race--