"A promising second place!"
Following the major disappointment in Sugo last month when the Motul-Autech team lost a guaranteed victory due to some debris flicking on the kill switch on the outside of the car, Benoit Treluyer took his revenge on lady luck in Suzuka. And he did it with no regrets!
Qualifying went quite well for the #23 Nissan GT-R, even though it just missed out on pole position.
"Only by two tenths," said Treluyer, who was nevertheless quite satisfied. "For the most part, the #8 HSV-010 was developed here at the Honda-owned Suzuka circuit and it was even quicker as it wasn't carrying any ballast. So for us to be on the front row was a great performance."
The next day, Motoyama confirmed the strong pace of the GT-R at the beginning of his stint before starting to lose some time on the #8 and the #100 cars due to the tyre pressures being slightly too high.
"When I took over I found myself one second ahead of the #8 car, which had lost some time in the pits, and I managed to keep it behind me for the entire stint. Unfortunately, towards the end, a GT300, which I was lapping around the outside, started to understeer a lot. It touched me at the rear and spun my car."
Benoit lost at least twenty seconds in the incident but then went on the attack again.
"My team mate did a good second stint and my final one was completely mad! I was doing one qualifying lap after another, broke the lap record and found myself just behind the #100 HSV-010 as it came out of the pits. I made a crazy overtaking manoeuvre in traffic at the chicane and I was able to take the place and keep it at bay until the finish."
Benoit ultimately clinched a second place finish, which is very promising for the end of the season and even more so for next year.
"The tyres worked well," he said. "We've made some more developments there but we're still behind on the engine side compared to Honda. We were faster in the first, second and fourth sectors, but we were losing six tenths in the third, especially on the straight and at the exit of the hairpin. We are lacking at low revs and we're still paying the price for having started the engine development a bit late. But, having said that, we're making progress and things are looking good for next season if I continue with Nissan."
On Sunday night the Frenchman still had a heavy heart, it wasn't because of the contact with the GT300 car though, but due to the loss of a friend.
"This weekend I wore a black armband on my overalls in memory of Lionel Regal. I wanted to win so much so I could dedicate the victory to him. It was through me that he acquired his Formula Nippon car and that is how I met him. He had just had an accident, didn't have a car and contacted me to find out if I could help him. He was a great guy. I couldn't go to his funeral as I was on the plane to Suzuka and that is why I wanted to make this small gesture. I thought about him a lot this weekend."
Lionel Regal was 35 years old and was killed on 15 August during the 67th edition of the hillclimb race at Saint Ursanne-Les Rangiers in Switzerland. The five-time French Hillclimb Champion was well on his way to a sixth title.