"We had the race won!"
There was massive disappointment for the crew of the Motul-Autech Nissan GT-R at the weekend as the team was heading to victory at Sugo until the car's kill-switch suddenly engaged.
"I took pole position, made a good start and managed to build a comfortable lead. When I handed over to my team-mate Motoyama, he continued in the same vein until, with 8 laps to go, some debris hit the kill switch which is positioned outside the car at the bottom of the windscreen." Sitting in the corner of the garage on Sunday night, Benoît Treluyer was still struggling to recover from that knock-out blow. "We were leading by ten seconds and the win was secure. Everything was going well. We had no worries, no tyre degradation and I was in front of the TV monitor ready to make my way to the podium when I saw the car parking up at the side of the track."
A few hours earlier, Benoît had made a fantastic start, pulling three seconds clear of the second-placed car on the first lap alone!
"It's a real shame as the Michelin tyres have progressed enormously. We knew that they would perform well at Sugo, but we didn't know just how well. We had a problem with the throttle, which we fixed by making it more progressive. We had worked a lot on the set-up of the car and clinched pole position quite easily. Everything was going well....and then disaster struck!"
Although the Motul-Autech team were competitive right from the start of the weekend, they really took advantage after finding the right set-up.
"We were delighted with our work," confirmed the Frenchman. "Now we have lost our chance to win the championship as we are more than 20 points behind the leaders. A win could bring us back into the title race but we need our main competitors not to score any points, which is not very realistic. If we had crossed the finish line in first place, everything would have been different. I'm really disappointed for Michelin who have done a huge amount of work. The fact that we were even in this position this weekend is largely thanks to our tyres. For sure all this work is not lost but, during the next rounds, we are going to face fresher temperatures which do not favour us. We will work to improve things in this regard but we are not sure what is going to happen. We will be competitive, but we won't be in a position to dominate like we did here. It's a real shame and I am mega disappointed. We have worked so hard during the past few weeks, so that makes it even more frustrating. The boys deserved a victory here. Now, we will have to digest our disappointment in order to arrive at the last rounds in an even better position."
In Suzuka at the end of August, Benoît will be looking for a big revenge!