Benoît Tréluyer is already looking towards the Kingdom of Bahrain where the final race of the 2013 WEC will take place on 30 November.
Benoît Tréluyer and Audi Sport crew-mates Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer produced the FIA World Endurance Championship’s most captivating firework display of the season in last weekend’s 6 Hours of Shanghai (9 November), clinching victory during the closing stages following a breathtaking comeback from an early-race puncture.
Having arrived in China with the firm intention of lighting up the circuit, the Frenchman blew apart the pack before scything past the Toyota during the final hour to secure an explosive win.
Then he started to regain ground, which gave me confidence ahead of my stint.
I told myself that we were in a good place strategy-wise, and when I climbed aboard I was super motivated.”
Joining the race for three back-to-back stints, Benoît immediately produced blistering lap times that helped him to erode the gap. He then handed the wheel to Fässler, who maintained the pace despite not feeling as comfortable in the car as Benoît did. For the deciding final stint, race engineer Leena Gade elected to send the Frenchman back out.
“Marcel could have done the job just as well, but it was me who took the reigns,” continues Benoît. “The Toyota of Alex Wurz was able to move ahead of us during the final fuel stop. I watched him for a few laps and saw that he was going to hit traffic at turn 1, so I got as close as possible in order to have an opportunity to overtake. I don’t know if it was due to the pressure I was applying, but he made a slight mistake and found himself on the outside of the racing line. That gave me a clear run up the inside.”
Following this textbook manoeuvre Tréluyer pulled away to secure his third win of the season, the fourth when including the non-championship 12 Hours of Sebring triumph he claimed in March.
“We’ve done just what we promised,” he emphasises. “Marcel, André and I have always said that we would fight until the end, and that’s exactly what we did. We’ve lost our world title, but we went down with honour!
“And I am delighted for our team-mates in the #2 car. Tom (Kristensen) and Allan (McNish) are at the very heart of Audi Sport’s endurance racing adventure, and this title wonderfully caps their great careers. As for my mate Loïc (Duval), he has been absolutely magic all season. To know that he will inherit our #1 softens the blow. On top of this, I’m very proud to have played my part in the first Audi victory on Chinese soil.”
Though they have surrendered their world championship crown Benoît, Marcel and André were nevertheless pleased to have conquered the 6 Hours of Shanghai in front of a crowd that was noticeably up on that seen a year ago.
“There are still a lot of spectators here,” he remarked on Saturday night, pointing out that the main grandstand was full. “The fact that they stayed until the end shows that the interest is growing. Congratulations to the WEC promoters, who have done a good job and were able to provide a lot of great activities around the circuit.”
As night fell and the Shanghai sky shone with a thousand lights, Benoît was already looking towards the Kingdom of Bahrain where the final race of the 2013 World Endurance Championship will take place on 30 November.
“We will do everything we can to win the closing round,” he confirms. “It has not been the easiest year for us, with a lot of bad luck along the way, and it is important that we end the season on a high note in order to prepare for 2014.”