Treluyer dominates to re-take championship lead
This season reigning champions Motul-Autech and its star driver Benoit Treluyer haven't had much luck when it comes to penalties and they received another in the pre-race warm up at Sugo, before winning the race a few hours later.
For Treluyer, the trouble started with some on-track debris which was about to cause him a few problems.
"The yellow flags had been out for five laps because of a small amount of debris on the track," explained the Frenchman. "I was following a GT300 car and just before the green flag, I moved alongside without overtaking. Unfortunately, the driver slowed down suddenly and I couldn't help but pass him before reaching the flag. As a result I was given a two place grid penalty."
The Nissan GT-R of Treluyer and Motoyama therefore dropped from the second to the third row of the grid, forcing Satoshi Motoyama to take the start with a bit less fuel in order to make overtaking easier during the first few laps.
"It was a good strategy, but Satoshi wasn't able to exploit it as much as we'd hoped as his tyres quickly were too soft and unstable. He had to ease off until lap 16 when he was able to find a better rhythm," said Benoit.
The race was just 25 laps old when the first drops of rain started to fall. Motoyama immediately dived into the pits on lap 27 to hand over to Benoit, with the team opting for hard intermediate tyres in the hope that the rain wouldn't get heavier.
"During the first few laps I had to be careful because it wasn't that wet on the racing line," explained Treluyer. "Then the rain started coming down heavier, a bit too heavily in fact, and I found myself in second place quite a long way behind the Lexus in the lead, which had come out of the pits on extreme wets during the heaviest of the downpour. We knew that the really heavy rain wouldn't last though, so I stayed out on track and on intermediates I managed to keep in touch, losing just half a second each lap."
The rain soon eased off and Benoit started to close the gap by three seconds per lap. After making the junction to the leader, Treluyer passed the Toyota of Ito and soon pulled out a gap of 26 seconds. On the advice of the team, he backed off to look after his tyres, but still crossed the finish line in first position to regain the championship lead.
"We now have 43 points which means we'll be carrying 86 kilograms of success ballast at the next round. Everyone will then have their ballasts halved for the last part of the season."
Another victory should make for some happy adventures for 'Benoit-poy' -- a cartoon which can be watched on www.benoittreluyer.com - where the incident during the warm-up may be featured!
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